What threats to liberty come with packing the Supreme Court with liberal judges?
Kelly Shackelford from First Liberty Institute has joined me to answer that question. Kelly’s a tremendous lawyer who has made a great impact for religious freedom in America by fighting in today’s battlefield — the courts.
A Victory For Religious Liberty
Tim Moore: Before we address the Biden Administration’s desire to pack the Supreme Court with liberal justices, there are many other happening occurring on the legal front. Just this year the Supreme Court made a tremendous ruling regarding religious liberty. Kelly, please catch us up on how this ruling impacts us all.
Kelly Shackelford: That was the Supreme Court’s decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. The case involves a Catholic ministry that placed children with families. Really, the organization is the leading group placing children with families in the city of Philadelphia. But, Philadelphia decided that they would not allow anybody to work with the city anymore if they believed that marriage was solely between a man and a woman. So, here’s this placement group that is really the best one providing most of these children homes, and then the city asks them to violate their Catholic beliefs, which they couldn’t do.
The case rose all the way up to the Supreme Court. A lot of people were quite surprised when the Court issued its unanimous 9-0 opinion. A win for religious liberty against the LGBT agenda that’s 9-0 — I think that may be a first!
Sure, there are lawyers who wish the ruling was broader. It sort of avoided a big issue. There’s a bad case that has been in place for 30-some odd years that has really done a lot of damage to the free exercise clause. It was teed up in that case to be addressed and to possibly overturn that old precedent, but the Supreme Court didn’t need to do so in order to rule in favor of the Catholic group. They just didn’t. So, addressing that precedent will now have to be saved until another day.
We think our Coach Kennedy case very well might be the case that addresses that issue. The court has already said to us concerning the Coach Kennedy case that they think it might provide a good vehicle to address the free exercise clause issue. So, while we wished Fulton v. City of Philadelphia would have been stronger, we are happy to get a 9-0 victory.
First Liberty feels really confident about the future of religious freedom with the judges we currently have on the Supreme Court.
Tim Moore: Justice Alito wrote a commentary in one of his rulings regarding this particular judgment. He wrote that he wished the Supreme Court had addressed the bad case that you referenced and had been bolder in terms of bringing back the priority of religious freedom. But, Christians take their win where they can get them.
First Liberty recognizes that, first and foremost, we still have work to do. After all, eternal vigilance is the cost of liberty. At First Liberty Institute, you have been eternally vigilant as long as you have existed and I am so grateful that you remain vigilant.
The Greatest Threat to Liberty
Tim Moore: What is the next case on the horizon that we as believers need to be praying for and that people need to be attuned to concerning a most dangerous trend that will affect our current culture?
Kelly Shackelford: We really need to be praying for a lot of cases. I’d encourage people to sign up for our email list on our First Liberty Institute website so they can be notified about the different cases and so pray.
We just received in the last couple of days a new case against the IRS. It’s a really dangerous case because of what the IRS did to a Christian ministry. We have two cases that the Supreme Court is about to decide on whether or not they are going to take them and both involve some really big religious freedom issues.
But, in addition to prayer, there’s a really unique situation happening right now that people should take action against. The Biden Administration is attempting what is called court-packing. Court-packing is when you add justices to the Supreme Court in order to get the political results that you want. When a party in power attempts to do this, well, just look at other countries. You don’t just sort of move the court in one direction, rather you end up destroying the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. No nation ever comes back from court-packing. Venezuela packed their courts in 2004, as well as Argentina and Chile. You see it throughout history and it always ends in lawlessness.
Now, today, here in the US, there’s an attempt to pack our Supreme Court. People might think, “Surely, this is not going on in the United States.” Yes, it is! The President has issued an Executive Order creating a commission to reform the United States Supreme Court. A Bill was then filed the very next day to add four justices to our Supreme Court.
This travesty of justice is something that people need to speak up about. We have created a website informing people about this coup on the Supreme Court. We created a website called supremecoup.com. For those who do not know the French word c-o-u-p, people can go and read the history. We offer memes on our Share tab that people can share with their friends to educate them.
Also, there’s an action center where people can take action. The commission has asked for the general public to send their comments to them to inform them on what they should do. So, there’s an opportunity right now for Americans to say, “We cannot do this to our country.” The majority of the country is with us. About two-thirds of the country is against court-packing, but as they get educated, the percentage increases. Our website provides a great opportunity to educate a lot of people that do not know this coup is happening.
By the way, the deadline for commenting to the commission is August 15, 2021. This commission is going to issue its report on November 15th. This is all going to happen or not happen within the next 6-8 months. So, I would encourage everybody to be a part of this effort. Click the Take Action button to be involved. Make sure you are educating others and communicating your beliefs because religious freedom is no good if there are no courts.
First Liberty has been working on other religious freedom cases, but when we saw what was happening and recognized how dangerous court-packing is, we realized that we had to dedicate some serious resources to stopping this. Court-packing could end up being the most dangerous threat we’ve ever faced in our country with regards to the Left coming after our courts and our judges.Kelly Shackelford: #CourtPacking could end up being the most dangerous threat we've ever faced in our country with regards to the Left coming after our courts and our judges. #scotus Click To Tweet
A Time Such As This
Tim Moore: Obviously, court-packing broadly impacts beyond just the few cases that we hear about, even over the ramifications of cases like the one the Supreme Court just settled with the Catholic placement agency. In Kentucky, where I live, our very liberal governor in anticipation of a change in the law had banned a Baptist adoption agency from having any relationship with the state. He was anticipating a change in the interpretation by the current administration in Washington, but obviously, this case will give him pause to be acting in such a manner, especially after the City of Philadelphia was slapped down.
How critical it is that Christians act as salt and light in this country, instead of just bemoaning the downward slide towards all the ungodliness that we witness? We need to step out, speak up, and be salt and light by reaching out to our elected officials and by supporting organizations like First Liberty Institute, which help us stay informed and engaged.
Kelly Shackelford: Yes, we are living in a key time — a very unique time — in our country’s history. Whether we go in one direction or the other is going to depend upon the courage that people have to speak the truth. As Christians, if we cannot speak the truth, then there really is very little hope for our nation.
Just look at the history of all of the totalitarian Eastern European countries that had lost their freedoms but then eventually gained them back. What you learn is that their freedoms were stolen not by a majority of people, but in getting them back, a significant number of people had started to stand up and speak the truth, even if it cost them dearly.
That, too, is our job as believers. This is our time here in the United States when people need to stand up and do their part. If we do so, I think we can turn this country around. After all, there are some incredible cases happening in the courts before those judges and justices who have been appointed to protect religious freedom. We are seeing a great trend, one that we think will be very positive for the future. That is, as long as we can stop the court-packing. Over the next six to seven months, First Liberty will be dedicating itself to that fight. And so, I believe every American is about to gain more religious freedom than they’ve had in their lifetime because of the direction we see things going. We’ve just got to take care of the short-term and then we’ll be good.
Tim Moore: The book of Jude says that we must “contend earnestly for the faith.” Faith impacts every aspect of our lives and every sphere of human existence. So, now is the time to take a stand and contend earnestly!