Dear Father, five people were killed yesterday in a shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, MD. The loved ones of Rob Hiaasen, Wendi Winters, Gerald Fischman, John McNamara, and Rebecca Smith are in grief today. They were killed by Jarrod Ramos, 38, who had a grievance against the newspaper that serves the city of Annapolis and surrounding counties. It has been reported that Eric Hartley, a former columnist for the paper, wrote an article in 2011 about a criminal harassment case against Ramos. Ramos sued the paper for defamation. He lost both the court case and the appeals court case. His action yesterday was an act of revenge, though neither Mr. Hartley nor his former editor, Thomas Marquardt, are still employed with the paper. Neither were at the offices at the time of the shooting. Many are celebrating the quick response of the police who were on scene within 60 seconds and quickly arrested Ramos before he shot anyone else. There were over 150 people in the office at the time of the shooting. Given that Ramos was arrested with smoke grenades in his possession, his intent to kill many more is quite apparent. Father, thank You that more were not hurt in this accident. Thank You for the bravery and skill of the police who prevented greater loss of life. I ask that You attend to the needs of the families of the five victims of this shooting. Walk with them through their grief. Surround them with Your love. Provide them with everything they need. May Your church show Your incredible love to each family. Father, use this nightmare to bring each of those who grieve into a closer relationship with You. I ask for Your grace on all who were traumatized by this event. Help them to heal emotionally. I also ask for Your mercy on Jarrod Ramos. May justice be served but may Jarrod also have a life-transforming encounter with Jesus Christ while he is in the prison system. May that lead to his remorse, confession, and repentance and a new heart to be an agent of Your good in this world. Amen.
Dear Father, the framers of the U.S. Constitution created an amazing system of checks and balances for our federal government. The legislature passes laws according to the will of the people who elect them to office. The executive branch of government is responsible to enforce the laws passed by the legislature. According to Article 2 of the Constituion, the President may use executive orders to address the detailed application of the laws. If the President does not approve of a law passed by the legislature, he or she may veto it. However, the legislature can override the veto by a two-thirds vote of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The U.S. Supreme Court was formed to give the public the right to complain that a law passed by the legislature or an executive order of the President is unconstitutional. The court is made up of nine justices who are appointed by the President, voted upon by the Senate, and who serve for their lifetime. The public has a say in who is appointed as a judge through their vote for legislators and the President.
There is a movement in America where many believe the Supreme Court’s purpose is to create new law, avoiding the bothersome process of winning elections, winning debates about legislation in the legislature, and securing executive branch signatures. If the proponents of this movement had their way, both the legislature and the executive branches of government would no longer be necessary. Our land would be ruled by the decisions of Supreme Court justices. Five people could change the direction of our nation. Securing their favor is much easier than winning the majority of 535 federal elections. However, there are others who believe it is unconstitutional for the Supreme Court to create law. They believe the court’s role is exclusively to determine if the laws and executive orders of the other branches of government are constitutional or not. These two competing views of the role of the court are evident in the heated debates about judicial nominations that occur in the legislature. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell led a change in the Senate rules in 2017 to allow the chamber to approve of a justice with only 51% of the Senate vote. The Republicans control 51% of the U.S. Senate as of today.
It is in this climate that it was announced yesterday that Justice Anthony Kennedy will be retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Kennedy, 81, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. He is a moderate on a court with four liberals and four conservatives. His liberal-leaning vote was critical in recent Supreme Court decisions in favor of gay marriage, abortion, affirmative action, and the rights of terrorists. His voting record gave progressives and liberals hope that they can achieve cultural transformation through court decisions. However, President Donald Trump made a campaign promise that he will fill any Supreme Court vacancy with conservative judges. He promised the pro-life community that he will nominate judges that overturn Roe Vs. Wade which legalized abortion. He delivered on his promise to his conservative base by his appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the court in 2017. He promises to add another conservative to replace Justice Kennedy. If he is successful, the court will have a majority of conservative justices for the foreseeable future. The court may decide that previous progressive decisions by the court, such as Roe versus Wade, were themselves unconstitutional. Progressives are in an panic, bitterly resentful of Kennedy for retiring before the mid-term elections this November. They are bitter that Trump, and not a progressive, is nominating court justices as the President of the U.S. They are frightened that they may lose the Supreme Court as a tool to change American culture. America is in for a very stormy summer as progressives and conservatives battle for the future direction of America.
Father, You are sovereign in all of this. You are not panicking. You are not concerned. You are in control. Father, put the man or woman of Your choice into this seat on the Supreme Court bench. May the judge be faithful to uphold the constitution. May the judge have a heart for those who are treated unjustly. However, may that judge also understand that the foundations of the American system of government will crumble if the Supreme Court takes over the job of creating law that the constitution assigns exclusively to the legislature. May the next judge inquire of the Lord for wisdom and understanding for each case that they hear. Father, we need healing in America. We are in deep need of a spiritual revival to reduce the growing bitterness in our society. I ask You to bring about spiritual revival by leading Your church, in every city in this nation, to show the love of Christ to the hurting people in their neighborhoods. There is nothing that will ease the conflict like the work of the Holy Spirit. Father, advance the revival of Your church today. Amen.
Dear Father, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency was created in 2003 in response to the 9/11 attack on America. The agency, which reports to the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible to investigate the criminal activity of foreigners operating in the U.S. They are also responsible to secure our borders, keeping foreign criminals from crossing the border and infiltrating into American society. ICE has been in the news recently as ICE agents have separated the children of illegal immigrants from their parents and housed them into what critics are calling “concentration camps”. Progressives are protesting across the nation, accusing the Trump Administration and the ICE organization of being cruel, immoral, and illegal. They are calling for the termination of ICE and a more open-border policy where illegal immigrants are free to enter the country at will. Conservatives counter their argument that immigrants who desire to come to this country through legal processes are welcome and that it is the parents of the children who put their children at risk by attempting to immigrate illegally. Father, You know all things. It is only You who can deliver justice. Father, may every immigrant be welcome in America who is the victim of injustice, who desires to be a law-abiding good citizen, who desires to make our communities stronger, who is thankful for what our nation stands for, and who will become a contributor to the spiritual revival in America. On the other hand, may those who seek to enter our nation for malicious purposes be blocked from entry. May those who seek to immigrate to American through legal means be celebrated by our politicians and the media. Only You can truly protect the innocent. Please do so for us. Amen