Here's a true Rip Van Winkle story. Jeremiah Denton, an American pilot who was captured in Vietnam in 1965, returned to a virtually different country when he was released in 1973.
Consider the differences between the United States of 1965 and that of 1973. During those eight years the floodgates of pornography were opened. Abortion became legal and was becoming widespread. Many marriages floundered, and the divorce rate skyrocketed. Thankfully, positive civil rights gains were made; but despite that morality was beginning to tank.
Millions were beginning to live in sin, only they resented anyone calling it that. The "gay" movement was just getting started and marching down the streets. They were just a couple years behind the women's liberation movement, which had also taken to the streets.
Denton once told me in a television interview, "When I came home … and saw all these signs — X-rated movies, massage parlors, these dumpy-looking places — and I asked [my wife] Jane, 'What are those?' And then saw the magazines on the magazine racks in the Naval Hospital, I was shocked."
He added, "I couldn't believe that my country, a country which had succeeded in getting one nation under God placed back in the Pledge had gotten to this place."
Denton later went on to serve his country as a U.S. Senator to fight on behalf of Judeo-Christian principles, long before his death in 2014.
The Supreme Court had a lot to do with many of those changes, including pornography and abortion rights. During those eight pivotal years, we went from one nation under God to a nation that had basically lost its moral compass.
Judicial activism refers to judges making laws from the bench, something they are not constitutionally charged to do — and I would argue, not permitted to do. But since when has the law ever stopped those intent on breaking the law anyway?
In America today, we are now virtually ruled by the Court. Every year we have to wait until the end of June or thereabouts to know the latest that our robed masters will hand down to us, as they come down from Mount Olympus, if you will, with their rulings.
The founders never intended it to be this way. Federalist #81, for example, makes it clear that the courts are to be the weakest of the three branches of government.
As a nation, we have been set adrift on a sea of relativism — and the high court bears much of the blame for that. The founding fathers gave us a Constitution to govern us. It was predicated on the Declaration of Independence, which said our rights come from God. Therefore, our laws should be in accordance with "the laws of nature and of nature's God." Natural law is disregarded today.
The next president could well set the course of the Supreme Court of the United States for at least a generation or two.
Some members of the high court are older than 80. The next president will likely get to choose at least two or three justices.
Our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, upon which the Constitution is predicated, tells us we have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." But many court decisions are taking away these very things.
Who do you want to see choose the members of the Supreme Court? Where would the judges they choose stand on issues like life, marriage, religious liberty, property rights, and the Second Amendment?
Those who hold to the notion that the Constitution is a "living document" are able to read into it whatever they want it to say. Jefferson could see early on that the germ of the dissolution of the Constitution was that it could become "a thing of wax" to be twisted this way and that in the hands of some of these justices.
Those who hold to the notion that the framers cared about what they actually wrote are those who make the best justices on the Supreme Court. Of course, the founders were far from perfect and knew the Constitution would need amending from time to time — as happened in the mid-19th century, to outlaw slavery forever.
What types of judges will the next president choose and the senate confirm? Will they move us toward freedom or toward tyranny? Will they recognize religious liberty or continue to strip it away? I think the courts are the most critical issue of this election.
If a Rip Van Winkle were to sleep or go away today, what type of America would he return to in 2024? To a large degree, that answer will be determined by "we the people" on November 8. For the sake of the next generation or two, let's make it count.