Sen. Josh Hawley Urges Religious Conservatives to Take the Lead After SCOTUS Decision

John Jakubisin | June 17, 2020 | 12:05pm EDT
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Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., asks a question during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled Police Use of Force and Community Relations, in Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, on June 16, 2020. (Photo by TOM WILLIAMS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., asks a question during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled Police Use of Force and Community Relations, in Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, on June 16, 2020. (Photo by TOM WILLIAMS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

( - In light of the recent Supreme Court decision prohibiting employment discrimination against homosexuals and transgenders, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Tuesday called for religious conservatives to “stand up and speak out.”

Hawley declared that because of the SCOTUS’ decision, the conservative legal project has failed the project’s “core” - religious conservatives. Congress is “terrified” of being held accountable, he said.

“This piece of legislation changes the scope of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It changes the meaning of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It changes the text of the 1964 Civil Rights Act,” Hawley emphasized in his speech on the Senate floor Tuesday.

“Make no mistake, this decision, this piece of legislation will have effects that range from employment law to sports to churches. There's only one problem with this piece of legislation. It was issued by a court, not by a legislature,” he said.

“It was written by judges, not by the elected representatives of the people, and it did what this Congress has pointedly declined to do for years now, which is to change the text and the meaning and the application and the scope of a historic piece of legislation,” the senator said.

Throughout his speech Hawley pointed out the decision’s effect, “This decision, this Bostock case and the majority who wrote it, it represents the end of something. It represents the end of the conservative legal movement or the conservative legal project as we know it. After Bostock, that effort as we know it, as it has existed up to now, it's over.” 

Within his speech Hawley consistently referred to the conservative legal project or movement as pertaining to the ideals of originalism and textualism. Originalism and textualism are both methods of interpreting the Constitution as according to the Founder’s intent and purpose. Hawley contended that the Bostock decision represented a departure from that interpretation.

“If we’ve been fighting for originalism and textualism, and this is the result of that, then I have to say it turns out we haven't been fighting for very much or maybe we've been fighting for quite a lot, but it's been exactly the opposite of what we thought we were fighting for,” he said.

Hawley also addressed the relationship between the project and its supporters, “The legal conservative project has always depended on one group of people in particular in order to carry the weight of the votes to actually support this out in public to get out there and make it possible electorally, and those are religious conservatives, and I am one myself. Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, conservative Jews, they’re the ones, let's be honest, they’re the ones who have been the core of the legal conservative efforts.”

“The reason for that is these religious conservatives from different backgrounds, but what they have consistently sought together was protection for their right to worship, for their right to freely exercise their faith as the First Amendment guarantees, for the right to gather in their communities, for their right to pursue the way of life that their scriptures variously command and that the Constitution absolutely protects. That's what they have asked for. That's what they have sought all these years, but as to those religious conservatives, how do they fare in yesterday's decision?”he said.

Hawley said there is no answer to his question posed because the congressional body, who has been too cautious to legislate, has given the power to legislate the outcome to the Supreme Court. 

The senator stated:

Everybody knows, every honest person knows that the laws in this country today, they’re made almost entirely by unelected bureaucrats and courts. They are not made by this body. Why not? Because this body doesn't want to make law. That's why not. 

Because in order to make law, you have to take a vote. In order to vote, you have to be on the record, and to be on the record is to be held accountable, and that's what this body fears above all else, Madam President. This body is terrified of being held accountable for anything on any subject.

So can we be surprised that where this legislator fears to tread, where the Article I body, this body that is charged with the Constitution for legislating refuses to do its job?

Hawley argued that religious conservatives had agreed to an implicit bargain. In this bargain they were told they would be given judges who would uphold their constitutional rights if they were to silently support and vote for the Republican Party. In his conclusion, he called out these religious conservatives.

“The bargain, which religious conservatives have been offered, is not tenable. So I would just say it's not time for religious conservatives to shut up. We've done that for too long. No, it's time for religious conservatives to stand up and to speak out,” the senator said.

"It's time for religious conservatives to bring forward the best of our ideas on every policy affecting this nation. We should be out in the forefront leading on economics, on trade, on race, on class, on every subject that matters for what our Founders called the general welfare, because we have a lot to offer,” he said.

“It’s time for religious conservatives to take the lead rather than being pushed to the back. It’s time for religious conservatives to stand up and speak out rather than being told to sit down and shut up,” Hawley said. 

And because I am confident that people of faith, of goodwill all across this country are ready to do that and want to do that and have something to offer this country and every person in this country, whatever their background or income or race or religion, because of that I'm confident in the future,” he added.

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