July 15, 2005 | Commentary on Family and Marriage
You know the phrase "round up the usual suspects"? That's
exactly what those of us battling on the front lines of the culture
war often do when we perceive a threat to our children. We talk
about the media -- about inappropriate content in movies, music and
television. And with good reason: Some media moguls attack our
children's innocence with a frightening level of glee and
But sometimes we need to go beyond the usual Supsuspects. The current battle over the future of the Supreme Court reminds us of another foe in the culture war -- judges who prefer legislating from the bench to interpreting the law.
Don't think this is just a matter for legal experts, the talking
heads on cable-TV news shows and our politicians in Washington. The
Supreme Court has a more profound effect on the culture war than
you may realize.
Let's start with the most obvious example: Roe v. Wade.
"That 1973 decision was certainly an extreme example of judicial
revision of our Constitution," former Attorney General Edwin Meese
III wrote in a
recent Heritage Foundation op-ed The judges wanted to reach a
particular political outcome, so they simply pretended to ground
their decision in our founding document. They used a
non-constitutional 'right to privacy' to create a 'right' to
abortion on demand."
Everyone knows the devastating effect this decision had on the
children who have been aborted since then, but what about the rest
of us? Make no mistake: The underlying message sent by the high
court -- that life is not a right "endowed by [our] Creator," as
the Declaration of Independence puts it, but something we define
however we like -- has been lost on no one.
The Supreme Court also has a profound effect on other hot topics
in the culture war, such as school prayer. School prayer was thrown
out in 1962's Engel v. Vitale, and the decision's supporters
have long invoked the phrase "a wall of separation between church
and state," which Thomas Jefferson wrote in an 1802 letter, to
But as Heritage Foundation scholar Matthew Spalding writes in The Founders' Almanac Jefferson was merely trying "to explain why he opposed proclaiming national days of public fasts and thanksgiving, as had Washington and Adams." Jefferson, who attended church services in the House of Representatives two days after writing the letter, "did not intend [it] to mean that the government should be completely secular or antireligious."
Yet that's how activist judges interpret it. Our kids,
meanwhile, get the message: Prayer is something to be hidden.
Then there's same-sex marriage. Many lawmakers think the Defense
of Marriage Act, DOMA, will protect the bedrock institution of
society from being radically rewritten by the high court. But "two
Supreme Court cases severely weaken the case for DOMA," Spalding
writes. "In Romer v. Evans (1996), the Court declared a
state constitutional amendment unconstitutional because it
was 'born of animosity' toward homosexuals and thus violated equal
protection under the U.S. Constitution. In Lawrence v. Texas
(2003) the Court stated that all individuals have a due process
right to 'seek autonomy' in their private relationships, including
'personal decisions relating to marriage.'"
In short: Don't count on the court to protect marriage. It's too
busy sending our children another message: Marriage isn't an
institution ordained by God for one man and one woman; it's
whatever you say it is.
Even property rights aren't sacrosanct, as the decision in a
recent case known as Kelo v. City of New London showed.
It's perfectly acceptable for city officials in that Connecticut
city to take property away from private residents to make way for
new businesses that will bring in lots of extra tax revenue, the
The bottom line: No one's home is safe. If the officials in your
city decide they want to raze your home, no one's going to stop
I could cite many other examples, from the Ten Commandments to
child pornography, but the topics above should suffice to make you
realize what's at stake.
Parents, as I've written about many times before in this column
and in my new book,
Home Invasion, we must commit every day to reclaiming our homes
from the toxic culture. But we've also got to work to reclaim
America. You can start right now by signing
Townhall.com's petition drive to help place a principled
conservative on the nation's highest court.
The current opportunity to change the composition of the Supreme
Court is an opportunity to restore America to her greatness. If we
end up with justices who interpret the Constitution according to
the original intent of the framers of that precious document, it
will be a huge step in restoring the decency and greatness of
America and our culture.
Rebecca Hagelin is Vice President of Communications and Marketing at the Heritage Foundation
First appeared on World Net Daily