Restoration: Let Justice Run...

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Let Justice Run...

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The real story was not the U.S. senators who worked out a last-minute compromise on the federal judge nominees. Nor was it the ailing Supreme Court justice who was wheeled in for his cancer treatment the same day. The real story is the battle to shape America's social and cultural agenda for years to come.

President George W. Bush's nominees to fill federal court positions have been held up for months (years, in some cases). Democrats had threatened to filibuster Senate debate in order to keep the Republican majority from approving the nominations. Instead a group of Republicans and Democrats got together and agreed to a compromise that allowed some of the judicial nominees to be approved.

Beyond the constitutional role of the Senate to give "advice and consent" on presidential nominations is a larger issue over who will set the beliefs and practices of society on issues of morality and social justice. Will the elected lawmakers at either the state or federal level pass legislation that regulates societal behavior? Or will the courts decide by overruling—declaring unconstitutional—laws passed by legislatures?

This is not something new; it has been going on since 1803, when the Supreme Court ruled that it was not bound by congressional acts it felt were unconstitutional.

In 1973 the most controversial decision of recent years concerned abortion. Roe v. Wade acknowledged the "right of personal privacy" for women in the matter of abortion. Abortion is an implied constitutional right, according to the decision, though who could imagine that this was the intent of the framers of the constitution?

Other cases have made the divide deeper between the opposing sides. In 2003 the Supreme Court overturned a Texas law that prohibited private, consensual homosexual acts. Many felt the court abandoned its role as a neutral observer in the culture wars. These major Supreme Court decisions, along with many others made by federal courts, are determining the social behavior and framework of the nation.

The big battle will come later this year when President Bush will likely have the chance to nominate a new Supreme Court justice. The current chief justice, William Rehnquist, is battling cancer and is expected to step down when the court's current term ends this summer. President Bush will no doubt nominate a judge who holds to a conservative interpretation of the constitution, while opponents will want to see a justice with more of an activist bent. People on all sides understand that the most far-reaching decisions, and therefore the most powerful, are being made by judges. The crucial battles in the ongoing culture wars are being fought in the courts.

God said through the prophet Amos that His people had despised His law and not kept the commandments (2:4). Justice is turned "to wormwood" (symbolic of a bitter taste) and righteousness is buried in the earth (5:7). Men did not want to hear the hard words of truth by those who carried the Word of God. Israel was full of those who by greed did not fairly consider the poor. Sin and unrighteous conduct had dulled the wisdom of leaders to enact sound legislation based on God's law. The end result was injustice. True justice could not be found in the places of justice—the "gate" (5:12) of the city where the elders typically assembled to hear and to resolve disputes.

Today we see the highest judges of the land cannot discern good from evil. The number of unborn fetuses who have been legally murdered since the Roe v. Wade decision is approaching 50 million.

Decisions that condone immoral behavior explicitly condemned by the Bible, and hasten its public acceptance, bring shame upon the nation.

We are a long way from a time of "justice [running] down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream" in our land (Amos 5:24). God speed the day when true justice is restored. WNP