By “it” I mean the campaign to push back life in these United States to some earlier period of American history. By “it” I mean the effort to roll back freedoms and opportunities we have embraced over the last 70 years. By “it” I mean the determination by some to sabotage what most of us call progress for the people of the United States.
It will not work.
Their idea is to use the Supreme Court of the United States to do what others could not do. Advocates of this journey into yesteryear have tried to use the ballot box, the pulpit, and the radio to persuade people to turn around and go back. It did not work.
We the American people, religious and otherwise, continue to move forward on our path to justice and freedom.
We approved of the end of racial segregation and applauded legislation that outlawed discrimination in education, housing, and employment. We celebrated when laws that prevented inter-racial marriage were overturned. We thought it wise when the religious majority (white Christians) was stripped of the power to indoctrinate children at public schools. We said Amen when LGBTQ folk were granted the same rights as the rest of us. We concurred when the constitutional right to privacy was used to take the government out of the medical office, especially for women consulting with their gynecologists.
But not everybody was pleased with these changes in American law and practice.
The unhappy cohort voted for public officials who pledged to resist these changes. They listened to radio hosts who railed against them. They helped television personalities get rich condemning this new birth of freedom. They flocked to preachers who promised to lead the nation “back to the Bible.”
It did not work. None of this worked. By large majorities, people living in these United States have embraced these changes as ways to expand individual freedom and social justice, ways of practicing what the Constitution calls “our more perfect union.”
Those longing for some imagined yesteryear harbored one last hope—the Supreme Court. “If only we could get our people on the Supreme Court,” they said in public and in private, “we could redeem this fallen country and restore it to its former glory.”
For more than 50 years this has been their prayer, this has been their plea, this has been their plan.
Along came their redeemer: Donald J. Trump. They flocked by the millions to his promise to appoint their people to the Supreme Court of the United States. They voted for him; they celebrated his stunning victory; they gave thanks to God that, at last, the hope of America Restored was a real possibility.
Then, by the sketchiest of political manipulation, the Great Savior of America was handed the opportunity to place their people in the place of perceived power. Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Comey Barrett were granted the black robes.
At last, the future held the promise of being so very much like the past. At last, the people who had stood in the doorways would have their way. At last, the preachers who loudly denigrated their neighbors would watch as millions of people were shoved back into the closets.
But it will not work.
Yes, these bright and clever people on the Court are finding ways to camouflage their contempt with constitutional language. One ruling after another is bouncing down the steps of their white stone cathedral. With decrees large and small, they are trying: trying to roll back the freedoms and opportunities the American people have embraced.
Their campaign to resurrect the 19th century will not work.
It will not work because their vision of America rests primarily upon the need to protect the rights and privileges of white conservative religious people. These people are whining about their loss of prestige and power. They blame this loss upon “persecution” and time and again beg their friends on the Court to look their way and nod in ascent.
This strategy of looking to the Court for aid comes as their numbers are in decline. Unable to win the affection and affiliation of their neighbors, this shrinking consortium of white religious conservatives is clinging to their last great hope.
Yes, they have won the Court, but they will lose the country. The rest of us will resent their campaign to stack the Court and stifle the country. They are already feeling the same decline of respect that has undermined the Court.
We the people of the United States will continue to move forward: embracing equality and opportunity, rejecting prejudice and privilege, welcoming immigrants and refugees, defending privacy and autonomy, and celebrating liberty and justice for all.
This sad and shrinking segment of our citizenry—white religious conservatives—and their stacked Supreme Court will continue to clutter public discourse with their demands for special treatment. But it will not work.
The rest of us are moving on.