President Trump and Vice-President Pence have a lot of friends coming to town this week. They are the hundreds of thousands of participants in the March for Life, coming to Washington to take a stand against the most disastrous decision the Supreme Court – or any court – has ever handed down. The decision of January 22, 1973, Roe vs. Wade has led to the killing of some 61 million children in America, and devastation to their families that can hardly be measured.
Vice President Pence has been involved in the pro-life movement for decades. I recall his regular refrain, year after year, when addressing the March for Life as a member of Congress: “I’m Mike Pence, I’m from Indiana, and I’m pro-life!” And he has carried that same forthright pro-life enthusiasm undiminished into the office of the Vice President.
President Trump, moreover, is a totally sincere convert to the cause. He has good company because countless Americans have changed over the years from pro-choice to pro-life, for a wide variety of reasons, and by the grace of God. And few people have ever done more for the unborn than President Trump, starting with keeping Hillary Clinton out of the White House! During the recent midterm elections, moreover, Priests for Life put together a special tribute to the President’s pro-life accomplishments, including diverting billions of dollars away from the worldwide abortion industry, moving the Supreme Court and other federal courts in a pro-life direction, filling his Administration with pro-life public servants, and speaking in a refreshingly direct and honest way about the abortion issue.
The marchers in Washington this week are very well aware that they have strong friends in the White House. In fact, President Trump and Vice President Pence made history the last two years by doing what no Administration had done before them: the Vice President spoke to the March for Life in person the year before last, and the President had a White House event connected by live video hookup to the March for Life last year.
This gives new energy to the March, including this year, and in fact, it provides one of the key reasons for participating in it. Our pro-life government officials in Washington need to see the pro-life movement, its strength, its diversity, and its perseverance. After we elect candidates because of their pro-life commitment and promises, we must accompany them on the long journey of working to change public policy, of enduring the attacks of the other side, and of dealing with the painstakingly slow process of getting things done in Washington. We must be like Aaron and Hur, holding up the hands of Moses, as we thank, encourage, and work side by side with each of our pro-life elected officials. We’re not just “holding their feet to the fire” for “their” promises; we’re working together with them to fulfill promises we’ve all made, to God, to our country, and to our unborn brothers and sisters.
In regard to the political scene, one of the themes that will be uppermost in the minds of the marchers this year will be the Courts. We will march with gratitude for the two new Supreme Court justices, and marvel at the difference between where we stand now and where we would have been if Hillary Clinton had sent two of her nominees to a Democrat-controlled Senate.
We will, moreover, march with a keen awareness that it is the entire federal judiciary that is being transformed, week by week, as the Senate confirms District and Circuit Court judges that President Trump has chosen. At the end of the second term of President George W. Bush, most of the Circuit Courts were dominated by Republican-appointed judges. At the end of President Obama’s second term, most of the Circuit Courts were dominated by Democrat-appointed judges. And now the pendulum is swinging back, as President Trump systematically works to fill a record number of vacancies.
I’ve always pointed out that the experience of the March for Life is a strange combination of joy and sorrow. We grieve at the holocaust still occurring around us; yet we rejoice, not only because we are on the right side of justice and history, but because we see that justice unfolding as history progresses.
We come together in January in Washington DC because of the specific event of Roe vs. Wade, handed down one January in Washington, DC. While no decision has claimed more victims, neither has any decision garnered more criticism, including from federal judges. In his August 24th article for the “Kavanaugh Column,” Unsettled Law: Federal Judges Grapple with Roe v. Wade’s Meaning and Validity, pro-life legal expert Steve Aden of Americans United for Life gives several examples of the appellate court judges who have criticized Roe quite directly. And over the years, it has been pointed out that even legal experts who agree with its conclusion and support legal abortion have criticized Roe for its weaknesses and lack of proper reasoning. Those critics have even included Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg!
In the book, The Law of Judicial Precedent, co-authored by Brett Kavanaugh, the question of whether longstanding precedent can be reversed by the Supreme Court is answered in the affirmative, particularly when a decision is the object of sustained public criticism and protest. Roe vs. Wade certainly qualifies for that description, and the continued evidence of how unsettled and opposed Roe continues to be will be right before our eyes this Friday, as President Trump and Vice-President Pence welcome a few hundred thousand of their friends to town.