America’s Creed Should Be the Touchstone of the Vote on Kavanaugh

Kavanaugh prayer

The success or failure of the pro-life cause in the United States depends on our nation’s respect for the fundamental principles on which rests the sovereignty of people of the United States. These principles include the self-evident truths upheld in our Declaration of Independence as a nation, truths that rest on the authority of the Creator, God. By the terms of God’s will all human beings are equally obliged to do right. Their knowledge of this obligation, as a function of conscience, inclines them to act this way or that, according to the provisions of “the laws of nature and of Nature’s God”. Those who freely choose to pursue these right inclinations have, when they act, the right to do so. Those who freely choose to forego this pursuit cannot still claim to have what they have chosen to forego.

The logic of the Declaration requires that we observe the distinction between natural right and freedom on which the meaning of justice depends. Freedom is the power to act. Justice is natural right in action. The deployment of power without regard for God-endowed right is freedom unjustly abused. If, being without right, it nonetheless prevails, it is tyrannical power. Any act enabled by such power is, by the standard of God’s rule, unlawful and unjust.

During the latter half of the 20th Century, it became the norm for many Americans to speak as if freedom and right are simply the same. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) encouraged this confusion with his famous “Four Freedoms” speech. (He did so even though the whole point of the speech was to distinguish between free nations and those oppressed by tyrannical power.) However, when they included “liberty” as an example of unalienable right in the Declaration of Independence, the representatives of America’s founding generation avoided this confusion. Unalienable rights are elements of human nature; traits by which humanity is recognize as such. Hence the term “unalienable”, which implies that the violation of these rights estranges human being from itself.

Freedom is the realm where free choice prevails, without regard to justice. Liberty is the realm where justice (freedom rightly used) prevails, with due regard to God. When we came into our sovereignty, the people of the United States appealed to God in the name of right. They fought and died for justice sake in the war that vindicated their claim of independence, lawfully made in terms of God’s rule. When they ordained and established their instrument of national self-government, the Constitution, they did so with thoughtful and conscientious due regard for the principles of right and justice that are consistent with God’s rule.

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These days, to serve their pursuit of tyranny, elitist faction tools encourage people to defame America’s founders for tolerating the institution of slavery. But apart from the principles of equal right and justice for all on which they founded the United States, what is the argument against slavery? Where freedom rules, as arbitrary power, slavery is the norm. Indeed, under regimes such as the Ottoman Empire, one person was free, and all the rest were slaves.

America’s founders tolerated slavery for a time so that the principles of God-endowed right could be firmly established as the premises of justice for a regime predicated on the righteous self-government of all people, a regime that would inevitably have to extinguish slavery or else be extinguished by the internal injuries the cancer of slavery inflicted upon it. The founding generation had every reason to believe that, with the cancer of slavery excised, the nation would go on to secure the blessings of liberty.

However, they apprehended another danger, and sought to provide against it. It is the danger of licentious power; of freedom uninhibited by any sense of transcendent right; of power pursued an arrogant few bent on vainglorious ambition, or by many, resentfully determined to despoil the advantages of the relatively successful few. The people of the founding generation did their best to encourage institutions of government that would mitigate this danger, dampening its potentially fatal force, much as a nuclear reactor contains the power of nuclear energy, rendering it useful instead of destructive.

But the wisest and best of that first generation knew that the ultimate safeguard against this danger had not to be in the institutions of government, but in the heart, the mind, the conscience of the people as a whole. So, they framed the nation’s quest for liberty in terms of God’s justice, and the rule of God’s law. By doing so they made it plain that the sovereignty of the people of the United States is contingent on respect for the sovereignty of God. And that the self-government we have achieved can only be maintained so long as we all consent to be God’s ministers, or —as the philosopher John Locke put it (Second Treatise of Government, Chapter II)— “the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by his order, and about his business”.

These days, on every hand, the elitist faction’s tools for the destruction of our self-government encourage us to be preoccupied with our success, our greatness, our pleasures, our individual or national identity and, above all, our own will and happiness. For some this is just an ideology, imbibed and parroted to get ahead. For others, however, it is part of a self-conscious effort to reverse the America revolution, so that the arrogant, wealthy, powerful few, who lost their tyrannical power when the people of the United States turned the world upside down, can regain the age-hold supremacy they lost.

These latter know very well that, without respect for the transcendent authority of God, the American people will inevitably fumble away their self-government. For the time being, therefore, they are encouraging all the vice, all the hedonism, all the conflicting claims of injury they can conjure. They do so in the name of equal rights and freedom, but they have banished, with the Creator, God, all thought of human equality and the whole doctrine of unalienable rights, including liberty, which makes practical sense of it.

The Senate’s confirmation of a new Justice for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) offers an opportunity to awaken people to this elitist trend. Senators truly careful of the oath of office could show up what may prove to be the elitist faction’s penultimate offensive against our liberty as a people. If there are any statesmanlike leaders in the U.S. Senate, they will not question President Trump’s nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, about how he will decide this or that specific case. Like others before him, he will undoubtedly refuse to answer such questions. Like them he knows that doing so would be outrageously prejudicial. Instead, Senators determined to serve the good of the nation will probe his thinking about the statement of principle that articulates the cause of our existence as a free people. They will seek to know how he means to apply the logic and principles of our Declaration of Independence to the task of interpreting provisions framed to establish the democratic, republican form of government America’s creed requires.

They will do their best to ascertain the nominee’s sense of how central the Declaration’s is to understanding the Constitution’s provisions, including in particular its regard for the authority of the Creator, God; His laws governing the universe in general, and our human nature in particular; and the provisions of conscience with which His will endows all our unalienable rights. If Judge Kavanaugh signifies his intention to reject or evade the standard of our American creed, he should be voted down, no matter the President who nominated him. But if he affirms his understanding of its importance, and what it implies for his oath to support and defend the Constitution—then he should be approved, with the grateful expectation that our liberty, and indeed the security of all our God-endowed unalienable rights, will be the better for it.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Once a high-level Reagan-era diplomat, Alan Keyes is a long-time leader in the conservative movement. He is well-known as a staunch pro-life champion and an eloquent advocate of the constitutional republic, including respect for the moral basis of liberty and self-government. He has worked to promote an approach to politics based on the initiative of citizens of goodwill consonant with the with the principles of God-endowed natural right.

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