Worried about the Court? Then worry about the Senate

I suspect that those of us who find Trump & Hillary equally unacceptable are going to be voted off the conservative island before this election’s over. I’m being harangued by perfectly nice people saying “butbutbut HILLARY!!”, along with what’s supposed to be the clincher: “Supreme Court!” An awful prospect, to be sure. The thing is, I don’t see that Trump offers any more hope in that department. Neither candidate appears to have the constitutional moorings, never mind the pro-life moorings (since the right to life precedes any written constitution), to be sensibly guided in the choice of Justices.

That leaves the Senate as the firewall against any mischievous molding of the court that a President Clinton or President Trump might want to try.

To likeminded voters who won’t support either of the major Presidential nominees, I say go to the polls anyway. Don’t stay home in a snit on November 8. All those downballot races are going to affect how the next Chief Executive does business. And of all the downballot races, those for U.S. Senate are most critical.

Thirty-four Senate seats are up for grabs. It’s not enough for a candidate to point to the top of the ticket and say “I’m with him” or “I’m with her.” What I want to know is, are you for religious liberty? Do you recognize the right to life? How about respecting First Amendment free-speech rights for peaceful protesters with whom you disagree? Are you ready to defend and expand the Hyde Amendment?

No moot points there. The Little Sisters of the Poor are still waiting to hear if the Court will respect their religious beliefs regarding helping to procure contraception for their employees. The Hobby Lobby decision is still under fire, and so is McCullen – the former a religious liberty case,  the latter a victory for peaceful pro-life witnesses outside abortion facilities. The recent Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision has accommodated abortion providers while making substandard health care for women a constitutional right (and wasn’t that a neat trick?).

Democratic candidates for Senate seem to be consistent in praising Hellerstedt and condemning the other decisions, though I would be pleased to hear of an exception. Republicans are all over the place, to the extent that I can make no assumptions whatsoever about what an “R” means when it comes to judicial matters.

Does a candidate squirm or stand tall under questions about the Court decisions I’ve mentioned?  That’ll tell me a lot about whether I want a particular candidate in the Senate. If Trump gets elected with a bunch of Republican senators who are OK with Hellerstedt and not OK with the Little Sisters, or who are meek about either, Hillary will get the Court she seeks, even if she’s not President.

My own state is in play, with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) being challenged by Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan. I’d much rather have Ayotte voting on judicial nominees. But will she campaign on the threat of a dangerous shift in the Supreme Court or a loss of the Hyde Amendment if Hassan gets the seat? Don’t I wish.

Frankly, in the year of Trump, Republican Senate candidates can’t trust either party’s standardbearer when it comes to the Court. It’s time to lead. Visualize a bloc of Senators telling the new President, Your nominees will have a history of respecting the right to life and the First Amendment, or they don’t stand a chance of confirmation. Better yet, visualize GOP Senate candidates saying that now, putting Dems on the defensive for once. Litmus test? You betcha.

Think about that if you’re tempted to stay home in November.

Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at LeavenForTheLoaf.com. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking in New Hampshire. See her earlier posts for DaTechGuyBlog: Ethics and PP’s Campaign Cash, Putting a Know-Nothing in His Place, and Ads Say the Darnedest Things

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