Editor’s Note: Today, “The Wall of Separation” blog concludes its series of special posts examining the policy proposals in AU’s “Agenda to Restore & Protect Religious Freedom.” Developed by Americans United’s Public Policy Department, the agenda lists 10 proposals the incoming administration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can take to undo the damage done to church-state separation during the Trump years.
During his four years in office, President Donald Trump appointed 220 federal judges, including three Supreme Court justices. This aspect of Trump’s legacy will persist long after he has left office in a few weeks.
Federal judges serve lifetime appointments. Although the president appoints federal judges, they must be confirmed by the Senate – and as of this writing, we don’t know which party will control that chamber next month.
AU’s “Agenda to Restore & Protect Religious Freedom” calls on President-elect Joe Biden to “Expeditiously fill federal court vacancies with nominees who have a demonstrated commitment to church-state separation.”
It’s also vital that these nominees understand the true meaning of religious freedom. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a concerted effort by Christian nationalists and others to radically redefine the very meaning of religious freedom. They want to convert that noble principle from a shield that protects individual rights to a sword that lashes out at others.
Biden must appoint men and women to the federal bench who will reverse this trend. Religious freedom is a cherished right of the American people, but it was never meant to be a tool to further oppression. If “religious freedom” requires or allows one person to take away the rights of another or treat that individual like a second-class citizen, the chances are good that what’s going on there isn’t real religious freedom at all.
Getting the courts back on track to a proper understanding of religious freedom buttressed by the separation of church and state will take some time, but it’s one of the most important things Biden can do. With your help and support, Americans United will keep the focus on this vital issue.