What if the Super Bowl were officiated by liberal judges?
Imagine your football team is about to win the Super Bowl by four points. As the clock ticks down the game’s final seconds, your quarterback takes the snap, his knee hits the ground, and the crowd storms the field in celebration.
Just then, though, the referee — let’s say he’s also a judge on the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals — waves his arms and blows his whistle. He has never liked the fact that the National Football League sets a 60-minute time limit for its games. After consulting with the umpire, the down judge, the field judge, the line judge, the side judge, and the back judge, he declares that even though time has expired, the game is not over.
The crowd at the year’s biggest game goes wild with half-booing, half-cheering, and everyone bewildered. After order is restored, the referee announces that he and a majority of the judges believe that having a 60-minute limit to the game is arbitrary and unfair. He rules that the game must continue until one side wins by at least two touchdowns.
The coach of your team protests, pointing out that Rule 4, Section, 1, Article 1 of the Official Rules of the NFL clearly states that, barring a tie, a game only lasts 60 minutes.
The referee responds that Rule 4, Section 1, Article 1 is part of a living, breathing document and that, regardless of what it meant when it was written, the rule now means what he says it means. After all, not only is he the referee, he’s a federal judge.
And that, in essence, is what far too many judges do — they change the rules, even our Constitution, so that their personal preferences replace the intent of lawmakers, even our nation’s Founders.
Now, you might correctly point out that a football referee would be fired immediately for pulling a stunt like the one described above. But that’s where rogue football referees and activist federal judges differ: Football referees can be fired; federal judges have lifetime appointments and can only be impeached by Congress.
Federal judges have what is probably the best job security in the nation. In the last 80 years, only five have been removed from office, and they had to commit crimes such as income tax evasion, perjury, and sexual assault to be impeached. Federal judges do not lose their jobs because they make controversial decisions.
That’s why it’s cause for celebration that President Trump is nominating, and the Senate is confirming, judges for our federal courts at a record pace. These jurists, in the words of White House counsel Don McGahn, “have a demonstrated commitment to originalism and textualism.” That means they don’t rewrite statutes to fit their own agendas, they make decisions based on the plain language of laws and the original intent of those who adopted them. And their appointments to the federal bench couldn’t come at a better time.
Former President Barack Obama and a Democratic Senate spent years packing our federal courts with leftist, pro-abortion judges. Obama’s 339 confirmed appointments included two Supreme Court justices and a complete reshaping of the nation’s federal appeals courts. When Obama took office in 2009, only one of the 13 circuit courts of appeal had a majority of Democratic-appointed judges; when he left in January 2017, nine of the 13 circuit courts had Democratic majorities.
In other words, a year ago our nation’s federal courts were dominated by judges who would go through whatever legal gymnastics were necessary to uphold abortion and strike down any legislative attempts to protect unborn babies and their mothers.
That is now changing.
Since taking office, Trump has nominated and the Republican Senate has confirmed 23 federal judges, including Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Twelve of those jurists have taken seats on federal appeals courts — a record number of such appointments for a first-year president. By comparison, three such Obama appointees were confirmed in 2009 and six of former President George W. Bush appeals court appointees were confirmed in 2001.
This year, we hopefully will see more judges appointed who actually see themselves as judges, not legislators or monarchs. The Senate Judiciary Committee recently approved 17 more Trump nominees to the federal bench. These men and women should be approved by the full Senate in the coming weeks.
Fortunately, when the Philadelphia Eagles face off against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday, it will be officiated by a referee and judges who will enforce the rules as written. That’s appropriate and just. And justice is what we also seek from our government officials, especially those in the judicial branch.
Thanks to Trump and the Senate, the years of adding new judges who have their thumbs on the scales of justice are over. Increasingly, we will have a judiciary that takes its guidance from the Constitution, not personal preferences that favor the abortion industry.
Father Frank Pavone (@frfrankpavone) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is the national director of Priests for Life.
If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.