Pastor Harry Reeder: Trump’s judicial nominee list shows his commitment to originalists and constitutionalists


 

 

 

 

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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, I want to take you to an interesting article out of CNBC. It’s been well-noted that Donald Trump has had his conflicts with Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, but there’s one area in which Donald Trump has prevailed quite well, and that’s in the area of his judicial appointments.

There are two reasons for it, according to CNBC. One is Senator Chuck Grassley who heads up the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has decided not to honor a Senate tradition for holding up hearings for judicial nominees who aren’t cleared by their own home state’s senators.

And he also has none other than Harry Reid to thank, who killed the filibuster rule for judicial nominees back in 2013. After he killed it, it was gone for good. According to a report from The Christian Science Monitor, this is likely to be the most vacancies for a president to fill in 40 years.

DR. REEDER: And there is a lot of signals that Supreme Court Justice Kennedy is going to retire and that he will be putting forth another nominee for Supreme Court and he has refurbished his list and this list is as good or even better than the previous list when he was campaigning.

You can see the importance of this, Tom. All of us who have concerns about public policy and how the judicial arena is now being used to establish public policy by judicial activism, you can see it in the many different responses to the initiatives of President Trump concerning his prerogatives as an executive officer of the nation and how progressives and secularists have made use of activist judges to thwart various initiatives.

And you can also see it because of the upcoming cases. We now have the Supreme Court case that’s likely going to be addressing California’s attempt to make crisis pregnancy centers communicate and market abortion clinics and the abortion practice. You’ve got the issue of mandated healthcare that includes abortifacients.

All kinds of issues coming up through the court system and how, at the federal level, the court of appeals is where most of these are decided because not all can go to the Supreme Court so, this is an important story.

Let’s also take just a moment to affirm an aspect of a Biblical world and life view. “What a man sows, he also reaps.” The Bible tells us that, even in our life as a believer, if we do a sinful act, then it has its consequences.

Harry Reid, when he decided to become a puppet of the secular progressives, in general, and the executive branch in the previous administration’s agenda to implement the secular progressive agenda, he then did away with the filibuster concerning judicial appointees, which has now cleared the way for the present administration and the Republican-controlled Senate to continue this fast-tracking of judicial appointees.

Now you’ve got the courage factor of Senator Grassley, who is probably one of the longest sitting senators – and one of the benefits of this, he is not really concerned about a reelection – he went ahead and bit the bullet on this one.

He removed the, quote, “blue slip” prerogative for senators from a home state of a judicial appointee to be able to hold up a process. Back in the day, the notion was that the senators from the home state would know more about that person than someone else and, therefore, were given more weight in the process.

If they thought it ought to be held up, then there was the consideration given to them that it would be held up. But, now, Grassley says, “We don’t need that. We know all that we need to know about judicial appointees with our technology and communication,” so they are now fast-tracking it.

Well, the result is I don’t think any president in 45 years has both the opportunity and is on-track to appoint more nominees to these federal positions than the current president, Trump, is now able to accomplish because of these two factors.

And any fair reading of those whom he is nominating does affirm that President Trump is maintaining his commitment to put in originalists and constitutionalists – that is, those who believe the law must be interpreted as it was written and applied to the current situation, not rewritten by the current situation – the result is we would get truer constitutional judgments from the federal court and it bodes well for any future consideration of a Supreme Court judge.

Tom Lamprecht: Harry, how are we going to get to a point where we prevent justices from creating law?

DR. REEDER: Well, I think the only way that you do that is to put in justices who do not believe that’s the purpose of the judge. The purpose of the judge is to understand the law, its original content in its original context – what was it written to say, what was it written to do – and then, with wisdom, which is why we pray, “God Save The Court,” apply it to the current situation.

Not rewrite it because of the case that’s in front of you, what you think it ought to say, but apply what it does say and to realize that any change in the law is not to come from the judicial branch, nor from the executive branch.

The only changes in the law is to come from those who are elected by the people in the legislative branch of the government, whether it be the local, the state, or the federal level of government.

I believe that it should be permissible for judges to tell the legislature, “Here is an area we would encourage you to consider in terms of what has evolved over time, and the dynamics of the current culture and how this should be addressed,” but they cannot address it through their interpretation. They have no right to make law by the opinion that they render.

Finally, in answer to your question, we have to return to the notion that the Supreme Court and its opinions do not make law. I believe that this needs to be reclaimed, if necessary, be relitigated. In the historic case of Marbury versus Madison, we need to get back to the understanding that what the Supreme Court does is give its opinion on that law – it has not made a law for the nation through that opinion.

Tom Lamprecht: Harry, what is the Christian principle here? Because we see so often these justices making these decisions and they basically pull out of thin air, whole cloth, they just say, “This is unconstitutional,” but there’s not really a rhyme or a reason to their conclusion.

DR. REEDER: Tom this has its parallel in the church of Jesus Christ where we see preachers pulling out of a text or reinterpreting a text in terms of today’s society instead of explaining the text with historical, grammatical analysis: “Here’s what the text has said in its original autograph, in its original context and this is the content.

Now, how does that apply to today?” we find preachers doing the same thing with Bible text in light of today’s cultural pressures reinterpreting marriage, reinterpreting sexuality, reinterpreting gender instead of faithfully holding forth the word of life.

In terms of the judicial branch, the Christian response is we want to affirm law and order, we want to respect the courts but we want, again, to put justices who understand and know their role, who understand and know the Constitution and who ask for wisdom from above in terms of how do you apply this law in a current situation.

And that’s what we need to pray for in our justices and those are the kind of justices that we need to encourage. What I would love to see is, again, Christian universities develop programs of Pre-Law education in the undergraduate world and then, also, Law Schools that would be built around the right calling of what is a judge supposed to do in a nation that is ruled by law?

Tom Lamprecht: Harry, we’re out of time for today. On Tuesday’s edition of Today in Perspective, I’ve got a good news/bad news story in the area of the pro-life movement.

DR. REEDER: I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s program. I think it’s going to be very helpful for everyone in terms of the good news around the sanctity of life issue and then also some discouraging news. But, having said that, again, that highlights the importance of all of these cases that are making their way up and through our system that directly deal with this issue of the sanctity of life.

And, whenever you talk about the sanctity of life, of course, you have the privilege to talk about the greatest issue of the sanctity of life and that is the glorious gift of God’s Son that we celebrate this Christmas season who came into the world to die on a cross in our place so that we could have not only eternal life but a changed life to live for Him in this life for His glory.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

 

 

Ledbetter: Alabama’s teachers are standing tall with return to classroom instruction

All of the personality traits, values and life lessons that we carry with us as adults were shaped and instilled in us by the people we encountered in childhood. For many, the strongest influences came from our schoolteachers, who opened new worlds of knowledge and taught us skills that remain with us today.

Consider for a moment the music teacher who taught you to play an instrument, the math teacher who led you to a love of numbers, the history teacher who brought to life the stories of our nation’s past, or the English teacher who inspired you to love great literature.

Teaching is one of the few professions whose impact continues to last for decades after the individual who does the job retires.

As many children across Alabama are preparing to return to school even while the coronavirus pandemic continues, teachers have never been more important or vital or deserving of our deepest appreciation.

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Returning to brick-and-mortar school instruction will, hopefully, restore a sense of normalcy to our children’s lives in these decidedly abnormal times.

A return to the classroom and even resuming the online instruction that some are adopting will also help our students maintain their education progress and continue the important social and emotional development that interaction with their peers and instructors allows.

Our English second language learners will receive the communication skills they need in order to better assimilate, and many low-income students will receive the healthy nourishment from the school lunch program that might be denied them at home.

Given the current circumstances and environment, I recognize that some of our public school employees may have a sense of trepidation about returning to school, and that is certainly understandable. Wearing a face mask to do something as simple as shopping for groceries, paying for gas or walking into a restaurant offers all of us a constant reminder that COVID-19 is a very contagious virus.

But our teachers and educators are setting their concerns aside and answering the call to duty.

I know that Gov. Kay Ivey, State Superintendent Eric Mackey and the staff of the Alabama Department of Education took great care in developing the “Roadmap to Reopening Alabama Schools,” and local school boards are being equally diligent in creating and implementing their own safety guidelines.

The importance of sanitization will be stressed more than ever before, and billions of dollars made available to Alabama through the federal CARES Act will help ensure that any resources that are needed to reopen schools safely will be readily available.

As the majority leader of the Alabama House, I can also offer assurances that the legislature stands ready to pass legislation or make appropriations that are necessary to ease the return to classroom instruction once we are in session.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an even deeper appreciation of the frontline heroes who have remained on the job and provided the most essential services throughout the crisis.

Doctors and nurses in our hospitals and health clinics; grocery store and other retail employees; law enforcement officers, emergency workers and firefighters; postal workers; sanitation workers; restaurant personnel; and those in dozens of other professions are among those who continued working even when times were their toughest.

I am proud to say that the teachers, school nurses, administrators and support personnel in Alabama’s schools also rank high upon the list of those who have stood tall, and their already invaluable service to our state is even more important to students and parents in each of our cities, towns and crossroads today.

Helen Keller, one of Alabama’s most inspirational figures, once said, “It was my teacher’s genius, her quick sympathy, her loving tact which made the first years of my education so beautiful. It was because she seized the right moment to impart knowledge that made it so pleasant and acceptable to me.”

As I close by wishing everyone a safe, happy and healthy school year, we would all do well to keep Helen Keller’s words in mind.

State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) serves as majority leader in the Alabama House of Representatives

5 hours ago

Alabama Ag Commissioner Pate gives update on unsolicited seed packages from China, urges public to stay ‘vigilant’

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) Commissioner Rick Pate gave an update Monday afternoon on the spate of seed packets from China that people across Alabama have received in recent weeks despite never having ordered anything.

Pate said that after the state seed labs had performed tests on the packets they had collected from individuals across Alabama, and none of them proved to be dangerous.

“Right at 50% of them proved be some kind of weed flower … 41% were vegetables, and 9% were herbs … we found no noxious compounds, no dangerous compounds,” said Pate at the event.

However, he warned, “They might send out the first seeds that weren’t treated with anything, have a sense of security come about, and then later send something out that could be harmful.”

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The commissioner further urged members of the public to refrain from planting any unsolicited seeds and continue to report them to the Department.

“At the very least something criminal has gone on here,” stated Pate, referencing laws that prevent seeds from being moved across state lines without being inspected by the relevant agencies.

Pate said his department had collected 252 seed samples as of Monday morning.

A total of 385 individuals in all but 11 of Alabama’s 67 counties have received one of the packets, according to information relayed at the press conference. State workers will be collecting the remaining samples soon.

(AL. Dept. of Ag/Contributed)

“Because we’ve got such a good food and drug lab, because we’ve got such a good seed lab, we knew this was inside of our comfort zone,” Pate said of the decision to conduct the seed tests in-house as opposed to shipping them to the federal government.

Andy Tipton, division director of Food Safety and Ag Compliance, said that 25 states had reported similar seed packets showing up at consumers’ doorsteps. He added that the ADAI was turning over all relevant info to the FBI, who were monitoring the situation.

Pate further told Yellowhammer News that one of the prevailing theories remained that the cause was an internet seller running a scam to artificially inflate their customer numbers and create opportunities for fake reviews.

He ended his press conference saying, “We have no idea the reason for this happening, but it doesn’t mean we can stop being vigilant.”

Any Alabamian still receiving one of the packets can report it here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

5 hours ago

Alabama basketball star John Petty returning for senior season

University of Alabama star forward John Petty, Jr. will return for his senior season, the player announced on Monday.

The Huntsville native was a second-team All-SEC honoree this past season, after leading the Southeastern Conference in three-point percentage.

Petty was considering entering the 2020 NBA Draft, however he decided to return for a final season in Tuscaloosa after evaluating his prospects. Another college season could see Petty lock down his chance at being a first-round pick.

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Tide head coach Nate Oats released a statement on Monday afternoon celebrating Petty’s return.

“It’s great to have John back for his senior year,” Oats said. “He is certainly one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country which is extremely important to us with how we play.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal. Let’s get to work!” the coach concluded.

Follow along with the Bama men’s basketball program here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

State of Alabama, University of Alabama System officials unveil GuideSafe app aiming to keep schools virus-free

Key figures from Alabama’s government and university systems joined to announced the new GuideSafe platform that bills itself as the key for students to safely return to college campuses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The GuideSafe platform will help the state fulfill its promise to test every single college student before they return to campus, and the platform will provide a space for ongoing health monitoring throughout the semester.

The unveiling took place over videoconference, where State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John and other key players detailed the importance of GuideSafe to the upcoming semester.

GuideSafe was developed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and tech company MotionMobs. It will be provided to any educational institution in the state that wishes to use it.

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Governor Kay Ivey apportioned some of Alabama’s CARES Act funds for the development of GuideSafe and the universal free testing for college students.

St. John on Monday praised Ivey’s “decisive action to provide funding” for the testing initiative and other campus reopening measures.

(Click for higher resolution version that will open in new tab)

GuideSafe will be accessible via app on smartphones and tablets and via web browser on any computer. Students will be invited to join the platform in the coming weeks.

One of the key features of the GuideSafe app is that it will track the location of students via smartphone and then inform them if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This new app – using Google- and Apple-led technology and created by UAB faculty, staff and MotionMobs for the people of Alabama – is a necessary tool in our effort to return to college campuses safely this fall,” said UAB President Ray Watts.

The app also allows students and faculty to report symptoms as they experience them, and get directed to a nearby testing site if necessary.

“The combination of these tools enables every participating college, university and K-12 school to engage faculty, students and staff regarding on-going monitoring of symptoms, exposure and risks of acquiring COVID-19,” said Sue Feldman, professor and director of graduate programs in health informatics at UAB.

A general factsheet on GuideSafe is available here.

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 hours ago

Trump fires TVA board chair after outsourcing uproar

President Donald Trump on Monday announced that he was removing the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board chairman, Skip Thompson, an Alabamian.

Thompson, a resident of Decatur, is the president and CEO of Corporate Billing, a subsidiary of Birmingham-based National Bank of Commerce. He previously served as the president and CEO of both First American Bank in Decatur and First Commercial Bank in Huntsville, as well as serving on the board of Decatur Utilities.

Trump appointed Thompson to the TVA board in 2018. He was elected chairman of the board last year.

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The president on Monday cited TVA’s plan to outsource information technology jobs overseas as the reason for firing Thompson and one other board member. Trump warned the other board members that they would be next if the outsourcing continued. The president also called on them to replace the organization’s CEO, who Trump said was making far too much money.

The president added, “Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: ‘You’re fired.’”

The TVA is the electricity provider for much of North Alabama. Self-described as “a corporate agency of the United States,” it is regulated at the federal level and not under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) applauded Trump’s move on Monday.

“TVA fires AMERICANS & hires cheap foreign labor,” the North Alabama congressman tweeted. “TVA executive salaries EXORBITANT. TVA=NO competition, unlike private sector execs who compete to earn profits to earn pay… WAY TO GO [President Trump]!”

RELATED: Doug Jones: ‘The TVA has lost its way’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn