Right Opinion

Court Pulls Rank on Military Trans Ban

Tony Perkins · Jan. 7, 2019

Activist judges have been on a mission to expand the influence of the courts in America for the last half-century, but they may have just crossed a red line. The courts have decided a lot of things — but how the president runs the military isn’t one of them. When it comes to America’s defense, there is one commander-in-chief. The Constitution is clear: Donald Trump is the final authority on military policy. And after two years of liberal judges presuming to know better than this president, it’s refreshing to see at least one court acknowledge who’s in charge.

After a year and a half of fighting judicial activists for power that’s been his all along, President Trump finally won a victory in his push to end social experimentation in the military. Seventeen months after he first rolled back Barack Obama’s transgender troop policy, the D.C. Circuit Court agreed that it was within his prerogative to do so. With a deference that’s almost extinct these days, three judges (including an Obama appointee) sided with the administration, saying that it had done its due diligence in researching the policy and its effects.

Attorneys for GLAAD, of course, insisted that the president’s decision wasn’t rooted in science but bigotry. The court disagreed, saying the government had taken “substantial steps” to justify the president’s position. “These included the creation of a panel of military and medical experts, the consideration of new evidence gleaned from the implementation of the policy on the service of transgender individuals instituted by then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter… and a reassessment of the priorities of the group that produced the Carter Policy.” For the Left to argue that there was nothing but prejudice behind Trump’s decision is just plain untrue. There is nothing discriminatory, the DOJ pointed out, about acknowledging the consequences of gender dysphoria on our military’s effectiveness.

Honestly, this isn’t a question of fairness — it’s a question of fitness. The president isn’t banning people who identify as transgender because he hates them. He’s banning people who identify as transgender for the same reason the military doesn’t allow 71 percent of Americans to serve. Because either they’re too old and unhealthy, or our country can’t afford the distraction that medical, mental, or behavioral issues cause. That’s why there are literally hundreds of conditions or physical limitations disqualifying people from military service. So many, in fact, that your fingers will get numb scrolling through them all.

The Left seems to think that there’s a “right” for people to serve in the military. There isn’t. When it comes to keeping America secure, only the strongest and brightest will do. Does that make the military exclusionary? Yes. But the Pentagon isn’t in the business of equality. It’s in the business of fighting and winning wars. If that hurts feelings, so be it. Either the military’s priority is protecting America — or it’s helping people on the path to self-actualization. It can’t do both.

The courts, this panel writes, “‘must be particularly careful not to substitute our judgment of what is desirable for that of [the executive and legislative branches], or our own evaluation of evidence for [their] reasonable evaluation’ because ‘[i]t is difficult to conceive of an area of governmental activity in which the courts have less competence.’” If anyone’s opinion matters, it’s the people who understand our mission best: the men and women in uniform. And, as of Thursday, 61 percent of them agree with their commander-in-chief’s policy on transgenderism. If they trust him, shouldn’t Americans too?

As FRC’s Lt. General Jerry Boykin (U.S. Army-Ret.) pointed out, this is, above all, a “victory for our service members, who are tasked with defending America.” For once, “it allows our military to focus their mission on fighting and winning wars rather than social engineering.” Hopefully, he went on, this ruling will help “pave the way for President Trump to continue moving the military away from Obama era political correctness which left our nation’s defenses at its lowest levels of readiness since before WWII. We trust that other appeals courts and the Supreme Court will agree — and leave the responsibility for keeping our military strong and country safe where it belongs: with our commander-in-chief.”

Originally published here.

Pelosi Overseas Abortion on First Day

New Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said no to the border wall — but yes to tearing down the one between taxpayers and abortion. That was the state of play on Day 1 of the 116th Congress, a rude awakening for any American who cares about the sanctity of life. And while Pelosi may have the U.S. House, she doesn’t have the White House — a fact the president was quick to point out.

When the Democrats’ first act in the majority was to try to re-open the taxpayer pipeline to overseas abortion groups Wednesday, the president let them know where their bill was headed: nowhere. In his first Statement of Administration Policy of the divided government, President Trump made it quite clear that the only thing the Left would get out of their legislation to overturn the Mexico City Policy was a veto. In a shot across the new speaker’s bow, the White House issued this warning:

“The administration opposes passage of H.R. 21, the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2019… and H.J. Res. 1…[which] includes $700 million more than requested for the United Nations, including restoring funding for the United Nations Population Fund. The bill would also undermine the President’s Mexico City Policy (Presidential Memorandum of January 23, 2017), which prohibits the funding of foreign nongovernmental organizations that promote or perform abortions.”

And President Trump wasn’t the only one airing his frustration about the direction of the new House majority. Conservative members across the board went to the mat to fight the abortion language, even going so far as offering a motion to recommit — which is one of the best weapons the minority has for protesting a bill (or part of one). Essentially, it gives the Republicans one last chance to recommend changes to the language — which, in this case, meant stripping out the Left’s push for international taxpayer-funded abortion.

A lot of motions to recommit fail, like this one did. But it does make a powerful statement of opposition from Republicans — and, in this case, two pro-life Democrats: Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). Obviously, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pointed out, when Nancy Pelosi said they would have a “pro-choice gavel,” she meant it.

“Earlier today,” McCarthy said, “Speaker Pelosi quoted a prayer by Saint Francis: ‘Lord make me a channel of thy peace.’ Hours later, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats voted to allow foreign aid money to be used to perform and promote the violence of abortion overseas… Instead of handing taxpayer money to international abortion advocates, Speaker Pelosi should heed the words of the Pope named after Saint Francis: ‘Every life counts: from the beginning to the end, from conception to natural death.’”

Elsewhere in his caucus, pro-life conservatives took their message to the House floor in passionate speeches about the signal this kind of bill sends. “What a shame it would be if the very first action of the 116th Congress is to send foreign aid to fund abortion overseas,” Congressman Mike Johnson (R-La.) said. And yet, that’s exactly what its majority did — to the disgust of Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), and so many more.

“We should have had a debate about [this bill] and how it funds China’s coerced forced sterilization and forced abortion policy,” Congressman Andy Harris (R-Md.) fumed. “Is that what the United States is about? Sending money for forced abortion? That discussion belongs in committee and added to a bill under the dark of night with no debate.”

More than anything, the Washington Examiner’s Phillip Wegmann writes, “This shows exactly what kind of speaker Pelosi will be. When President Trump negotiates with Pelosi, he will be sparring with a shrewd negotiator and a champion of the abortion industry.” Fortunately for pro-lifers, Donald Trump isn’t new to the negotiating table. And when it comes to making a deal, there are some things he hasn’t compromised. Unborn life being one of them.

Originally published here.

A Brief Encounter with SCOTUS

When the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of a 93-year-old war memorial in Maryland, deep down everyone knew: this wasn’t just about one cross. It could be about all of them.

That’s what conservatives are hoping anyway, heading into one of the most important religious liberty cases in a generation. For years, men and women of faith have watched wave after wave of secularism try to wash away any mention of Christianity. They’ve gone after nativity scenes, national cemeteries, even Ten Commandments statues. Just last month, we watched humanists take on Christmas using the same faulty “separation of church and state” logic they’re arguing with Bladensburg.

Based on a flawed understanding of the Establishment Clause, FRC’s Alexandra McPhee points out in an op-ed for USA Today, “faint-hearted politicians or secular legal groups prevent the three wise men, baby Jesus in the manger, and the likes of ‘Silent Night’ from ever making their way onto public property. A decision in favor of the Bladensburg Memorial could mean public officials would feel more empowered to recognize the reason for the season in the public square.”

And the war on Christmas isn’t the only thing at stake. As FRC’s Vice President for Policy, Travis Weber, explains, “This is an incredible opportunity for the Supreme Court to not only rule for this cross — but to clarify the tangled confusion of current Establishment Clause law, which is currently being used to remove religious messages, signs, and symbols from public squares around our country.” That’s a point FRC’s legal team made in a new amicus brief just authored and submitted to SCOTUS by Travis and Alexandra. “As we make clear in our brief, religion has a natural, proper, and even essential role in our public life and the life of our military. The cross shape of this memorial is an eminently understandable public expression of faith by a community enduring loss.”

Thanks to President Trump, Americans will have the benefit of two more strict constructionists hearing the Bladensburg case: Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Hopefully, they’ll agree with us that finding the cross unconstitutional would mean “a total hollowing out of the right to religious expression in the public square. The cross sits at an intersection of National Defense Highway among many other monuments dedicated to our nation’s military but is being targeted for its shape. The use of the cross is a poignant reminder of the sacrifice of service members for our country. The government and the public should be able to honor that memory, not erase it.”

For more in-depth analysis on the case, check out my interview with Travis on Thursday night’s “Washington Watch.” To read FRC’s brief, click here.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.

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