Author: Nathaniel Darnell

After Long-Awaited SCOTUS Victories—Now What?

After Long-Awaited SCOTUS Victories—Now What?

Last Friday, June 24 served as the cap-stone on a week of landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions dealing with issues of School Choice, Gun Rights, and finally the Lives of the Preborn. As an encore, this week they gave us another win for Religious Freedom. For countless pro-lifers, gun rights activists, educators, Christians, conservatives, and just constitutional textualists, these victories have been a long time coming! In fact, many who started these efforts 50 or more years ago have long since passed.
It reminds us that the effort to stand for our principles and promote life and freedom in America is a long-game. But by the grace of God it does pay off.

President Ronald Reagan with a much younger Clarence Thomas in 1986

By at least the 1940s conservatives had started to notice a problem with a growing tyranny within the United States Supreme Court. Yet it wasn’t until the late 1970s that an organized effort began to build to counter-act that trend, to raise up a new generation of jurists to fight back, and to get the Republican Party to help. With the election of Ronald Reagan as President in 1980, for the first time Republicans seemed ready to work to turn things around.

However, the initial results proved mixed at best. Are you old enough to remember? Working with the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate up until 1987, President Reagan successfully got two excellent Justices installed onto the Supreme Court: Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. They were eager to reverse most of the worst court decisions that had contributed to America’s decline in the twentieth century. But the other two appointed under Reagan proved quite the disappointment: Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy. These last two would work to ensure that the court’s tyrannical trend would grow and entrench, often pairing with the liberal justices to thwart one conservative effort after another for the next 20 years.

Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

We could give Reagan a mulligan for Kennedy. After all, Republicans had just lost control of the U.S. Senate in the 1986 election, and Reagan had previously offered two exceptional judicial nominees in Robert Bork and Doug Ginsberg that the Democrat Senate had turned down before Kennedy was offered as a compromise candidate. But there was no excuse for Sandra Day O’Connor. Republicans in control simply failed to properly vet her just because she was a woman, and they wanted to make good on the promise to appoint the first woman to the Supreme Court. It was an early example of the folly of identity politics.

That mixed trend continued under President George H.W. Bush, who appointed another stellar conservative in Justice Clarence Thomas, but an awful disappointment in Justice David Souter. Thankfully, Thomas has endured on the court while O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter (finally!) retired.

Under Democrat Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama the liberals got nothing but consistent liberal Justices appointed to the court. They weren’t playing games. “Liberal” didn’t mean pro-liberty; “liberal” meant more liberal intrusion of the federal government, and a more liberally “fast and loose” interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Demonstrators during D.C. v. Heller

President George W. Bush continued the mixed success for Republicans, though, in appointing the terrific Justice Samuel Alito and the quite disappointing Chief Justice John Roberts. Again, there was no excuse for this mistake since Republicans controlled all of Capitol Hill at this time. President Bush even originally was going to appoint Harriet Miers instead of Alito, but the outcry from conservatives was so strong that Bush had to relent. Then a shift started to happen.

In 2008 for the first time SCOTUS reversed itself on a series of repeatedly encroaching decisions that involved gun rights with D.C. v. Heller. Prior to graduating from law school, I had the opportunity to personally witness the oral arguments before the Supreme Court in Heller. It was a momentous occasion. A bright glimmer of hope. It wasn’t just the first major reversal for gun rights, but virtually the first major reversal for conservatives of any kind for the court in decades.

Then when Justice Antonin Scalia unfortuitously died in 2016, most of us thought that was the end of any hope of fully reversing the court’s tyranny in our lifetime. Thankfully, U.S. Senate Republicans had enough fortitude to prevent out-going President Obama from appointing Scalia’s replacement.

Next, do you remember the 2016 presidential elections? For many of us who had been paying close attention to what had been going on in the United States Supreme Court for decades, we trusted that despite whatever other weaknesses U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) might have, he as a conservative attorney at least knew very well what was going on with jurisprudence in D.C. and what kind of Justice the next President would need to appoint to help turn things around. We didn’t have the same confidence in presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Businessman Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz during the 
2016 presidential Republican Primary

Cruz pressed Trump on the question of who he would appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Trump agreed with Cruz on the type of Justices that needed to be appointed—a key point that helped Cruz supporters feel more comfortable getting behind Trump for the Republican nomination.

And President Trump made good on his word. Working with the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, and listening closely to conservatives, President Trump appointed three conservative Justices to the court that provided a cushion for when Chief Justice Roberts acted up. It is very likely President Trump’s federal judicial appointments will be the most lasting positive legacy of his presidency.

Trump’s three appointments:
Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, & Barrett

Yet until this previous week, all of those three appointed Justices had not yet been fully field tested. After so many previous disappointments, we were still holding our breath in suspense waiting for another possible letdown.

They didn’t let us down. This time Republicans delivered. They delivered because conservatives hounded them relentlessly. And when Republicans deliver, it makes us want to get out and vote for them again!

We don’t mean to suggest that these Justices are perfect either individually or collectively, but they do represent a major course correction in the federal court that has been a long time coming.

Pro-life activists Saturday

So while many statists and liberals took to the street this weekend to complain and protest about the decisions, many of us were celebrating. I was grateful for the opportunity to speak on behalf of pro-life activists like many of you to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Over the last 40 years, there have been so many opportunities for them to do this and … they haven’t had the courage to do it, they’ve missed opportunities, and then all of a sudden, they finally did it! We’re just so excited. Can’t believe we lived to see this day.”

Cobb GOP Resolutions Critiquing Governor Brian Kemp Last Week Stir Controversy

Cobb GOP Resolutions Critiquing Governor Brian Kemp Last Week Stir Controversy

Last week the official Cobb County Republican Party Committee created something of a stir when they met last Thursday and passed several resolutions critiquing and “censuring” (a better word might have been “reprimanding”) Governor Brian Kemp, and calling for protections at all levels of civil government of medical freedom for citizens. The resolutions addressed time-sensitive subjects. The critiques of Governor Kemp concerned his handling of the allegations of election fraud and revisions to the voting system to ensure accuracy, the illegal immigration, and the indiscriminate admission of Afghan refugees.

Cobb RA member Michael Opitz was appointed as the Resolutions Committee Chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party and orally presented the resolutions, some of which were revisions of earlier drafts presented at a previous committee meeting. Supporters of Governor Kemp protested the resolutions on technical grounds, but the resolutions passed the committee overwhelmingly.

The GRA commends the GOP for holding elected officials accountable to Republican principles at all times. If Republicans do not promote their stated objectives, then the Republican Party becomes meaningless. While we have commended Governor Kemp’s performance in certain instances, we have also offered a critique of some of his actions as well. Such critiques are not endorsements of primary opponents, but instructive for all concerned and provide officials such as Governor Kemp the opportunity to correct their missteps before the next election. If Republican officials expect the grassroots activists to get out the vote for them during campaign season, they have a responsibility to listen to their concerns.

Alex Johnson
GRA President Alex Johnson


However, the Cobb YRs put out an email on Saturday condemning the Cobb GOP for passing the resolutions. Cobb RA member Nathan Adams called the author of the message on behalf of the Cobb YRs a “lobbyist, posing as a grassroots leader, tell[ing] you that you can’t hold your elected officials accountable …”. GRA President Alex Johnson added that actually most of the board members for the Cobb YRs have a conflict of interest: “One would think and assume that a YR group is ‘grassroots’. But simply look at the composition of their Board of Directors posted on their website: of the 4 board members listed, one of them works for a politician (a Congressman), and two of the others have businesses tied to lobbying that require politicians to like/support them.”

The GRA disagrees with the Cobb YRs about holding elected officials accountable, and our Board today passed a resolution supporting GOP organizations that have held officials accountable. Accountability helps motivate people to campaign and vote with the assurance that our candidates will do what they profess.

Members of the Cobb RA Executive Committee did, however, urge the Cobb GOP Resolutions Committee to provide copies of any proposed resolutions in advance with the Call of the Meeting in the future, and encouraged any party rules to be changed to ensure such a reasonable practice would be followed.