The Court and Public Opinion

I’ve spent the days following the ruling in the proposition 8 case, praying, reading, and thinking.  My first reaction was, “Our worst nightmare has come true.”  A federal judge declaring that the “ability to marry” is a fundamental right that cannot be denied to gays and lesbians. What nonsense. Societies throughout history have restricted the ability to marry (which is why, for instance, you’re not allowed to marry your sister.)

But my first reaction was wrong. Folks, there is still hope—but only if we get to work now.

The issue is far from settled. The next stop is the Ninth Circuit, the most liberal court in America, where it likely will be affirmed. But then it’s on to the Supreme Court.

But people say we don’t have any chance at the Supreme Court. After all, over the past 30 years, virtually every Supreme Court case involving sexual freedom—whether it’s been abortion or gay rights—has been decided in favor of the expanded liberties.  We’ve lost those cases.

So what makes same-sex marriage different? Well, in every one of those cases (Roe v. Wade, Roemer v. Evans, Lawrence v. Texas), public opinion was on the side of the expanded liberties. But the same cannot be said about same-sex marriage. Every time the issue has been placed on a state ballot, the people, usually by large margins, have rejected the idea. And the polls show that the American people still do not accept gay marriage.

That matters because the Court is reluctant to go against strong public opinion to the contrary. In the 1997 case, Washington v. Glucksberg, when the Supreme Court was asked to affirm a Ninth Circuit holding that would have made assisted suicide constitutional, the Court rejected it outright, unanimously.  Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote, “Americans are engaged in an earnest and profound debate about the morality, legality and practicality” of the practice and that the Court should “permit the debate to continue.”

Yes, Supreme Court justices read the newspapers.

So, can we win this in the court of public opinion? Yes we can! If the polls show a year from now when this case makes its way to the Supreme Court that the public is against gay marriage, we will win. And this decision in California this week could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

I know a lot of people are saying these days that Christians should take a vacation from politics, that only the elites can change the culture. Baloney! We can move public opinion.

But for that to happen, we have got to mobilize. That means educating ourselves and informing our neighbors.  That means getting active in our churches. And you can go to the Manhattan Declaration.org website and sign on, as 460,000 people already have. Tell everyone you know about the website. And send them there as well for information on what we can do to mobilize. And get ready for a campaign of prayer and fasting coming up this fall. We have details for you at our website, BreakPoint.org. And then, it’s time to “Speak Out with Chuck” again: Come to BreakPoint dot org, click on “Speak Out with Chuck,” and share your ideas what we need to do to protect traditional marriage. Share with me—and with fellow BreakPoint listeners—what you are already doing.

Enough of saying to ourselves let somebody else do it: We’ve got to wake up and get busy. Not only traditional marriage, but our religious and personal liberties depend on it.

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  • http://www.tell-usa.org Robert Struble, Jr.

    The shocking reality is that in this erstwhile republic our “religious and personal liberties” will now turn on a decision by unelected, irremovable, life-tenured attorneys bedecked in black robes.

    Most of the informed opinions I’ve seen indicate that it really comes down to Justice Anthony Kennedy. In 2003, it was Kennedy who wrote the Lawrence decision overturning state sodomy laws, and reversing the Bowers decision written seventeen years earlier by an exemplary Justice, Byron “Whizzer” White.

    Kennedy is a “Catholic” who appears quite willing to prefer the postmodern secular agenda to God, the Church, and the democratic process.

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