Why America Survives Despite Its Nihilist Supreme Court
Last time I wrote that the Supreme Court’s fundamental lie about the nature of liberty in Planned Parenthood v. Casey destroyed the legitimacy of the United States. And indeed, threatened to abolish it, as the Soviet parliament had six months before abolished that Union.
Our regime, like the Soviets’, is a propositional one. Our government is not based on some simple empirical fact, such as “We are Magyars” or “Here be Turks.”
What if Your Nation’s Proposition Turns Out Not to Be True?
Instead, our regime is based on a set of complex claims about the world that can be argued back and forth. Then on rules we agree to play by because we think those claims are true. The Soviet government’s claims were those of Marxist-Leninism. So as that worldview, in practice, collapsed from fanatical terror into black comic squalor, its legitimacy drizzled down into the snow.
It took one brave drunkard, Boris Yeltsin, to hop on a tank and the whole game was over. He’d proved that the umpire cheated and half of the players had been doping. The players threw down their gloves, the pitcher pocketed the ball, and all of them walked off the field.
Why hasn’t that happened yet in America? Why do patriotic young Christians still insist on joining the military, or serving as police — to the point that the Woke enforcers in charge of such institutions want to purge them of “extremists”? Why have Americans gone on trusting institutions like the FBI and the Justice Department, long after they’d been provably politicized and corrupted, like the East German Stasi? Why have we not seen Christians drifting away from their attachment to an America whose official governing philosophy is increasingly hostile to them and their free exercise of their faith?
The Pro-Life Generation
Most importantly, why has the pro-life movement gone from strength to strength in the past 40 years, winning over young people and making ongoing progress on what seemed as of 1992 a hopeless cause? Who would have thought in that year that by 2022, the abortionists would have triumphed in Ireland, but would face grave threats in the U.S.? Why is there a serious, politically powerful pro-life movement in the U.S., but nothing remotely comparable in other English-speaking countries, or even most Western democracies?
A “Liberty” Which Doesn’t Include Christians
There is something quite exceptional about America. And it comes only partly from the political principles declared in 1776. Indeed, if America were purely a propositional nation, then the Supreme Court’s nullification of that proposition should have ended things there and then.
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The nihilist, relativistic, demonic “American liberty” posited in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which became the cornerstone of countless court decisions and progressive laws and policies thereafter, is a new political principle. It’s quite distinct from and incompatible with the “liberty” bounded by Natural Law which our country’s founders affirmed. The new concept is also overtly hostile to Christianity and its free exercise in America.
As Goes Bob Jones, So Go the Catholics
Even the milquetoast centrist Chief Justice John Roberts has admitted this. In his dissent from Obergefell v. Hodges, Roberts warned that the court, by insisting that same-sex marriage must be embraced in 50 states, was putting the individual rights affirmed and defended by the U.S. government on a collision course with orthodox Christian churches and their religious freedom. In the claim that equal “dignity” for same-sex couples is an implied constitutional right, the Court was stating that such churches opposed a legitimate U.S. state interest.
Hence in theory, a future court could dismiss the doctrinal independence of churches that insist on heterosexual marriage as it has the claims of Indian tribes to sacramentally use peyote — or fundamentalist Mormons to practice polygamy. Certainly, the legal basis for religious groups to receive tax exemptions — that they generally further state interests — could be challenged among such non-compliant churches. That was the basis of the denial of tax-exempt status to Bob Jones University during the Reagan administration — that the college promoted racism, which opposed state interests. Just plug in “homophobia,” and a few more progressive appointments to the court, and the decision writes itself.
Our Deepest Roots
But the roots of American exceptionalism go back far beyond 1776, and the religiously vague language of the Declaration of Independence. Americans were already a distinct people by that date, who’d been formed by centuries of self-government and relative self-reliance, in a pervasively Christian context. The authors of the 1619 Project were right about just one thing: the identity of the American people was forged most decisively not in the 18th but the 17th century.
Our distinctiveness goes back to a small group of English-speaking white men in that period, who embarked upon what you might even call a conspiracy. But it wasn’t a cabal of slaveowners aimed at lassoing free labor. It was a covenant of English Christians compacting to govern themselves in a new land they’d sought out where they could practice their faith in freedom. I refer to the 1620 Mayflower Compact, which will be the subject of my next column here.
This article is part of the series, God, Guns and the Government.
John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”