The widow of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Maureen Scalia, and their son, Fr. Paul Scalia, are also seen joining in this moment of prayer.  

(Washington, DC) — [CBN News] President Donald Trump has tweeted a photo of a unique behind-the-scenes moment of faith at the White House. (Photo Credit: CBN News)

It’s a picture of the president pausing to pray with his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, along with Vice President Mike Pence and several family members.

The widow of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Maureen Scalia, and their son, Fr. Paul Scalia, are also seen joining in this moment of prayer.

Many Christian leaders are applauding Trump for picking Judge Gorsuch to fill the post left vacant by Scalia’s death.

CBN News spoke with evangelist Franklin Graham about the Supreme Court nomination, which was a primary reason that many Christian voters supported Trump.

“This election is not about anything else than, it’s about the Supreme Court and who do you trust to nominate the next justice. And this man, certainly for all of us Christians, we are very thankful that President Trump nominated him because he will protect religious liberty and that’s what, for me, that’s what I’m very concerned about is religious liberty,” Graham said.Graham called Gorsuch a true conservative and a great addition to the High Court.

CBN News

PRAY! White House Prepares to “Go Nuclear” to Ensure Gorsuch a Seat on the Supreme Court

“I would say if you can, Mitch [McConnell], go nuclear, because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was caught up in the web.” – Donald Trump

(Washington, DC) — [CBN News] The White House is gearing up for a full court press to get President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court confirmed. (Photo Credit: CBN News)

Trump is enlisting help from the most powerful conservative groups in Washington.

Judge Neil Gorsuch is working to win over senators on Capitol Hill and he’s being shepherded by an unlikely Trump ally: former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH.

Ayotte spoke out against Trump during the campaign, but now she’s using her contacts on both sides of the aisle to help get the president’s Supreme Court pick confirmed.

Republicans are singing Gorsuch’s praises.

“I think the president made an outstanding appointment. We’re all thrilled,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY.

The GOP needs eight Democrats to gain super majority approval for Gorsuch and prevent a Democratic filibuster against Gorsuch.

While Democratic leaders are promising a fight, at least seven Democrats have already said they won’t join in a filibuster.

Nuclear Option

Trump wants to make sure he gets his man on the Court even if that means using what’s known as the “nuclear option” to change the Senate rules and allow Gorsuch to be confirmed with a simple majority. (Screengrab via CBN News)

“I would say if you can, Mitch, go nuclear,” commented Trump. “Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was caught up in the web.”

The president met with an elite group of conservatives to discuss a battle plan.

“We are calling our members to light up the phones in the Senate and to get this nominee through,” said Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America.

Some groups will target Senate Democrats facing tough re-election battles in 2018.

“We believe this is an excellent choice and we’re going to do everything within our power to help him win confirmation,” said Wayne LaPierre of the NRA.

“We were the group that sued to overturn Obamacare and we learned that one judge makes all the difference,” said Juanita Duggan of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Trump Tackles Chicago Violence

On another front, President Trump kicked off a month-long celebration of black history at the White House with a listening session that included an idea for curbing the epidemic of gun violence in Chicago.

“I was recently contacted by the top gang thugs in Chicago for a sit down,” said Pastor Darrell Scott of the New Spirit Revival Center.

“They reached out to me because they associated me with you; they respect you,” he continued. “They believe in what you’re doing, and they want to have a sit-down about lowering that body count so in a couple weeks I’m going in to Chicago.”

“I think it’s a great idea because Chicago is completely out of control,” Trump responded.

A Warning for Iran

Meanwhile, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had some tough words on Iran.

He’s pointing to the Islamic Republic’s recent ballistic missile launch and attack against a Saudi ship as proof to the international community that the nation’s behavior is destabilizing.

He also called out the Obama administration for giving Iran a free pass on its reckless behavior.

“The Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s maligned actions, including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms,” said Flynn.

A senior White House official says all options are being considered in response to Iran.

“President Trump has severely criticized the various agreements reached between Iran and the Obama administration, as well as the United Nations, as being weak and ineffective,” explained Flynn.

“Instead of being thankful to the United States in these agreements, Iran is now feeling emboldened. As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” Flynn declared.

CBN News

After 50 Weeks of Prayer, Is This Supreme Court Nominee God’s Champion?

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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump named Judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia—a lion-hearted defender of the U.S. Constitution’s original intent. The Senate Judiciary Committee will now begin its important confirmation hearings, followed by a vote of the full Senate.

It’s vital that we all understand the weightiness of what’s happening. This justice will sit on the court for perhaps four decades; it is no small decision.

As one who leads a ministry that has been standing and praying outside the Supreme Court for more than 12 years, there are many reasons why I am encouraged by the announcement of this judge. I believe this is a storyline filled with divine promise and encouraging facts.

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On January 31, President Trump announced Judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee (Image: C-SPAN Screenshot)

Why We Started to Pray for a Champion

On February 13, 2016, I got off an airplane in Dallas only to hear the tragic news that Justice Scalia had unexpectedly passed away—in Texas, of all places. I was devastated. The Supreme Court was only weeks away from hearing a monumental abortion-related case out of Texas (Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt), a major prayer focus of Bound4LIFE for three years.

The following day, I was approached by two different leaders of national prayer ministries who had specific encouragements from the Lord for me. The first leader pointed their finger at me sternly and said, “Your job is to keep Scalia’s seat open.” I was stunned by those words, but at the same time they resonated in my spirit.

Later in the afternoon, the second national leader called asking: “Where are you?” After I answered, they told me to stay there until they arrived.

There at the table where we were eating lunch, this highly respected leader said to me: “God says, ‘I have a champion that I have positioned all along, ready to go into this place.’ So, the Lord says, ‘Hold the fort for me, and hold the fort for my champion that I’m ready to bring up to the place they should be.’”

Exactly how does one hold open a seat on the United States Supreme Court? Some would suggest lobbying Senate leaders, while others would put emphasis on social media campaigns and writing op-eds. For me, I know these things happen through prayer and fasting.

At many points in the past year, it seemed impossible. Not since 1970 had the Senate held a seat open on the Supreme Court for a full year.

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In honor of Justice Scalia, the flag outside the Supreme Court flew at half-staff for months (Photo: Becca Henley / Flickr)

Yet that one phrase really struck me: there was a “champion” that God had in mind to sit in that seat. Now that’s a prayer we could pray relentlessly, regardless of the circumstances.

The person of faith will often look naïve to those with a worldly mindset. As the presidential campaign proceeded, candidates supported by many pro-life advocates began to drop out. When only two were left, many people didn’t trust either one, though some evangelical leaders began to see a stark choice before us.

Then Donald Trump released a list of 21 potential nominees for the Supreme Court, which many Constitutional scholars praised. His list gave new fuel to our prayers.

In June 2016, that Texas case related to abortion clinic safety regulations was not decided in favor of life; we were heartbroken by the loss. I wept as I stood there praying in front of the Supreme Court that day, surrounded by young pro-abortion activists singing loudly: We are the champions!

Yet we continued praying for God’s “champion” to come to the court. Even when everyone was saying that Hillary Clinton was certain to win the election, we didn’t give up on praying for it to come to pass—because we knew it was what the Lord wanted.

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On June 27, 2016, we pray outside the Court as pro-choice activists chant and wave protest signs (Photo: Matt Lockett)

An Unexpected Election—and a Surprising Confirmation

One of the reasons no one predicted this past election’s outcome was because so-called experts didn’t realize how important the Supreme Court is to Americans, and specifically to Christians.

Seven in 10 voters said that Supreme Court appointments were an important factor in their vote, and those voters overwhelmingly chose to elect President Donald Trump.

During Inauguration week, my team and I hosted a Native American friend from California who came to DC to pray. When he heard about our year-long prayers for the “champion,” he felt led to look at the list of Supreme Court nominees which had been narrowed to three frontrunners.

As a Native American, the meaning of names carried much weight; it was only natural for him to notice the significance of the meaning behind someone’s name.

He was shocked when he saw that the name Neil means “champion.” This fact really intrigued us. We began to wonder, “Is Neil Gorsuch the champion that God had in mind?” I laughed a little when I asked my team: “Were we praying for him by name all along and didn’t even know it?!”

Today, we know President Trump has indeed chosen Neil Gorsuch as his nominee. What do we know about this judge from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado? Does he fit the mold carved out by our prayers for the empty seat?

US Capitol - Inauguration - Donald Trump - Inaugural
On January 20 at the Capitol, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States (Photo: Aaron Wong)

Upholding the Constitution Like A Champion

Gorsuch is most widely known for ruling in the Hobby Lobby contraception case before it reached the Supreme Court in 2014. His controversial decision was upheld in a 5-4 vote.

He wrote in the case that those with “sincerely held religious beliefs” should not be forced to participate in something “their religion teaches them to be gravely wrong.”

In a similar fashion, Gorsuch sided with the Little Sisters of the Poor when their legal battle with the Obama Administration reached the 10th Circuit in 2015. This case centered on whether these nuns, who serve the frail elderly nationwide, would be required to pay an annual fine of approximately $70 million dollars to the government for refusing to cover contraception in their insurance plans.

Gorsuch joined the majority decision, which said in part: “All the plaintiffs in this case sincerely believe that they will be violating God’s law if they execute the documents required by the government. And the penalty for refusal to execute the documents may be in the millions of dollars. How can it be any clearer that the law substantially burdens the plaintiffs’ free exercise of religion?”

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On March 23, 2016, hundreds rallied outside the Supreme Court on behalf of the Little Sisters (Photo: ALL / Flickr)

Again, the Supreme Court ultimately echoed his reasoning in their recent decision in favor of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Only months ago, in a decision released on October 28, 2016, Judge Gorsuch wrote a dissenting opinion in the case Planned Parenthood Association of Utah v. Herbert.

It concerns whether Utah Governor Gary Herbert acted lawfully by cutting off taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood following a video investigation by the Center for Medical Progress. Gorsuch rejected the majority opinion, which reinstated Planned Parenthood’s public funding, and accurately represented Governor Herbert’s pro-life appeal in his dissent.

Quoting Governor Herbert, Gorsuch wrote: “The defendants do not dispute that the Governor said, ‘We now have video where they’re selling fetus body parts for money and it’s an outrage and the people of Utah are outraged. I’m outraged. So for coloring outside the lines, Planned Parenthood forfeits some of their benefits.’”

Gorsuch concluded: “It is undisputed… that the Governor was free as a matter of law to suspend the funding in question.”

Planned Parenthood - Houston
Planned Parenthood currently receives over $553 million in taxpayer dollars every year (Photo: Wikimedia)

Federal judges rarely write books on controversial topics, so it is significant that Gorsuch authored The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in 2006—edited by Professor Robert George of Princeton University.

“Human life qualifies as a basic good,” wrote Gorsuch in chapter nine. “It follows that we can and should refrain from actions intended to do it harm.” He further stated: “To act intentionally against life is to suggest that its value rests only on its transient instrumental usefulness for other ends.”

To pass the rigorous Senate confirmation hearings, I recognize that Judge Gorsuch cannot explicitly state whatever his views are on the sanctity of human life. Yet, to me and many other pro-life advocates, the words in his book telegraph his principles in a way that is inescapable.

Seeing the Big Picture

The larger questions are about judicial philosophy, which I have posed to a few friends who happen to serve as judges. Currently seated on the Alabama Supreme Court, Justice Tom Parker (whom I cite with his permission) wrote to me following our conversation:

Dr. Robert George was involved in getting Princeton University Press to publish Neil Gorsuch’s pro-life book examining assisted suicide. In the Acknowledgments, Gorsuch thanked George and Dr. John Finnis for working with him through multiple drafts of the book.

Both men are recognized as leading Christian intellectuals: George for his work in ethics and religious liberty, and Finnis in legal philosophy. Gorsuch studied at Oxford with Finnis, where George has also produced noteworthy scholarship.

As pro-life advocates, these two men have taken legal philosophy back to the ‘natural rights of man’ school. This is the legal foundation of America, as stated in the Declaration of Independence: “All men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”

God is the source of our rights—not social compact, not government, not a man-created philosophy. Now these great men who are re-laying the foundation of the legal system have embraced Gorsuch.

Without question, Gorsuch has the mental gravitas to follow in Scalia’s shoes. The fact that Gorsuch turned to these men and has worked with them is a mighty indication of his legal orientation; this bodes extremely well for his career of service to America.

Supreme Court - chairs - Courtroom
The nine chairs of the Supreme Court Justices inside their Courtroom (Photo: Phil Roeder / Flickr)

There will always be unknowns when it comes to Supreme Court nominees. Yet it’s clear to me that Judge Gorsuch fits the mold of the champion we have prayed for.

Nearly one year ago, we never could’ve known a “champion” of Constitutional law would be appointed to the Supreme Court. Last fall, election polls considered that essentially impossible. For us, a word from God gave us clarity in the confusion and a strong basis for faith.

We now turn to confirmation hearings in the Senate. Along with all Americans, I will be listening closely to what Judge Gorsuch has to say. And I hope you’ll join us as we continue to pray for God’s champion to sit in the empty seat.

Bound4LIFE Comms. Manager Josh Shepherd assisted in research and writing of this story.

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About Matt Lockett

A full-time missionary, Matt Lockett serves as Executive Director of Bound4LIFE International and Justice House of Prayer DC. He travels and teaches on the subjects of prayer, fasting and governmental intercession—topics covered in his new book Prayer that Impacts the World. Matt and his wife Kim have four children. They live and minister in the Washington, DC area.


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