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Trump Moves to Select SCOTUS Nominee While Latest Ruling Unravels California Sexual Orientation Debate

07-03-2018
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President Donald Trump is interviewing his top candidates this week to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.  

On Monday, he interviewed four judges: Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge and Amul Thapar.

"They are outstanding people and they are really incredible people in so many different ways," the president said after meeting with them.

He plans to meet with several more candidates this week before announcing his nominee on July 9.  The remaining candidates are believed to be Thomas Hardiman and Joan Larsen.

Trump is predicting a tough confirmation fight. 

"It's probably going to be vicious," he told Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo, "because the other side – all they can do is obstruct and resist."

Exit polling shows that one in four who voted for the president said the Supreme Court was the most important factor in their vote.

The Court's Impact on Evangelicals

From abortion to religious freedom, there's a lot at stake with this nomination.
 
Evangelicals have seen the court's powerful impact in two recent rulings.

The Masterpiece Cakeshop decision involving Colorado baker Jack Phillips affirmed that government officials cannot denigrate the beliefs of people of faith.

And in NIFLA v. Beccera, the high court overturned a California law that required pro-life pregnancy care centers to post information about abortion. In doing so, the court shot down a liberal trend that created a "professional speech" category that didn't enjoy full First Amendment protections.

"This court has not recognized 'professional speech' as a separate category of speech," the court stated. "Speech is not unprotected merely because it is uttered by 'professionals.'"

This ruling means that bans on sexual orientation counseling will face severe challenges going forward. 

It will also likely have bearing on a bill being debated in California right now – AB2943 – which considers sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) for adults to be consumer fraud.

Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Matt Sharp predicts the ruling will impact the bill. 

"I think it's going to strongly call into question the foundation of AB2943," he told CBN News.

Liberty Counsel President Mat Staver called the NIFLA ruling a "prize," especially when it comes to the California debate. 

"That statue that they're considering will be DOA," he told CBN News. "The handwriting is already on the wall. SOCE cases are going to be a thing of the past."

Staver said Liberty is prepared to file suit against the bill should it be enacted into law. California senators could vote on the bill, already passed by the state assembly, as early as Thursday.  Staver said he has a number of plaintiffs for the case, including licensed counselors, non-profit ministries that work with people struggling with same-sex attraction and clients that want to receive help.

Another religious liberty law firm, Tyler & Bursch, is also preparing multiple lawsuits should the bill pass.

"It is a complete 180-degree change and the impact of NIFLA is going to have a significant impact on SOCE cases," said Staver. Staver says 11 states have SOCE laws on the books, in addition to multiple municipalities.

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