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Trump Bravely Affirms Framers, Religion, and Life

Trump Bravely Affirms Framers, Religion, and Life

(Denys Kovtun/Dreamstime)

By Tuesday, 28 January 2020 12:00 PM Current | Bio | Archive

In the midst of the most unfair and unjustified impeachment ever brought against a president, Donald Trump gave perhaps the strongest and bravest speech of his political career.

Even as Mr. Trump became the first president ever to be impeached in the complete absence of any crimes being charged against him — which flies in the face of the Constitution’s requirement that impeachable offenses consist of "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors" — he nonetheless, on Jan. 24, became the first U.S. president ever to attend and speak at the annual March for Life. 

The March for Life is a gathering of many thousands in the nation’s capital on the anniversary of the notorious Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).

That decision, the most arbitrary act of judicial legislation in our nation’s history, essentially declared that somewhere in the "penumbras and emanations" of constitutional provisions could be found a purported right to terminate incipient human life in the womb, a right that many progressives think ought to be extended to any time before the actual birth of an infant.

The progressives now dominating one of our political parties, the Democrats, see the abortion question as an assertion of a woman’s control over the functions of her own body, but many Americans, and perhaps, at this point in our history, the majority of Republicans, believe that to terminate a pregnancy is to take an innocent human life, something that no one has a right to do.

The two views are obviously incompatible.

In our republic, the way such intractable matters have been solved has been through the legislative, not the judicial process. This is why the Constitution actually leaves such matters to the state legislatures, and this is why the late Antonin Scalia, dissenting in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992) decision (affirming Roe v. Wade), stated to his fellow justices that, "We should get out of this area, where we have no right to be, and where we do neither ourselves nor the country any good by remaining."

The annual March for Life is best understood as an expression by Americans who share Scalia’s view, and who, moreover, seek to persuade their fellow Americans that the Court made a dangerous and unconscionable error in that 1973 decision.

This is certainly the most divisive issue in American culture, politics, and law, and the president made it clear where he stood. "We are here," he said, "for a very simple reason: to defend the right of every child, born and unborn, to fulfill their God-given potential."

There are those who believe sincerely that it is wrong for any public official, much less any president, to take a stand on a public policy based on religion, because they maintain that there ought to be a clear separation of church and state.

It's true that the First Amendment to the Constitution does provide that Congress is prohibited from dictating an "establishment of religion," but what the Framers’ meant by that was simply that there would be no creation of a national church, as had been true in England.

This was not supposed to be an atheistic nation, and, indeed, John Adams, our second President stated in 1798 that "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Similarly, Samuel Chase, an early Supreme Court justice — one who, like Trump, was himself later to be the subject of an unfair impeachment — told a grand jury in 1802 that there could be "no political happiness without liberty, that there can be no liberty without morality, and that there can be no morality without religion."

President Trump firmly placed himself in the camp of Adams and Chase. "When we see the image of a baby in the womb," he said, "we glimpse the majesty of God's creation."

The president acknowledged, however, that not all Americans shared his views or those of the marchers, "Sadly, the far left is working to erase our God-given rights, shut down faith-based charities, ban religious leaders from the public square, and silence Americans who believe in the sanctity of life."

As he closed his speech the President made clear where he stood, "And above all, we know that every human soul is divine and every human life, born and unborn, is made in the holy image of Almighty God."

With those words Mr. Trump underscored what is at stake with his trial for impeachment and the upcoming election this November, This country is in the midst of an historic choice — whether to reaffirm the belief of the Framers that providence still guides this nation, or whether to cede power to those who spurn that view and the president who supports it.

Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, the Legal Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and a contributor to The University Bookman. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and University College, London. He has often testified on constitutional issues before committees of the United States Congress, and is the author of "Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered" (Regnery, 1994) and "Law Professsors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law" (West Academic, 2017). Presser was a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Mr. Trump underscored what is at stake with his trial for impeachment and the upcoming election this November, This country is in the midst of an historic choice, whether to reaffirm the belief of the Framers that providence still guides this nation.
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