“God’s Warriors”: The Right’s “Supreme Vision”

In her series “God’s Warrirors,” CNN’s Christiane Amanpour visited Liberty University where she learned that, though greatly pleased with the confirmations of Justices Roberts and Alito, they are training the “next generation of pit bulls” to “keep fighting at the Supreme Court until we have a new day. We never ever, ever give up.”

Transcript below the jump:
AMANPOUR: And so the courts became the new battleground over the unborn. But year after year, the religious right lost every Supreme Court decision on abortion. Falwell and others were determined to reverse that, using their political clout to make sure new justices…


AMANPOUR: …passed the Christian conservative abortion litmus test. The two men president George Bush nominated to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts…

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a cup of coffee with the nominee.

AMANPOUR: …and Justice Samuel Alito.

SAMUEL ALITO: I, Samuel A. Alito, Jr. do solemnly swear…

AMANPOUR: …met their test.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. Supreme Court today handed a major victory to abortion rights opponents.

AMANPOUR: A month before Falwell died, the Supreme Court, on a 5- 4 vote, did put an end to one practice called partial birth abortion. Justice Alito became the decisive fifth vote.

FALWELL: That is the culmination, for me, of about 35 years of work.

AMANPOUR: A welcome victory for Jerry Falwell, but not yet enough.

FALWELL: I don’t think we have five votes on “Roe v. Wade”. I think we are probably one or two votes short.

AMANPOUR: As we talked that last week of his life, Falwell seemed to recognize that his battle to end all abortions would have to be won by the next generation of “God’s Warriors”.

FALWELL: My children are more likely to see this victory won than I am. I think we’re 50 years away. We’ve got to just stay with it, stay with it, stay with it and never give up.


AMANPOUR: If this graduation sounds like a religious ceremony, in a way it is.


AMANPOUR: This is the first class of lawyers to emerge from Liberty University’s new law school.


AMANPOUR: It was Jerry Falwell’s final creation — a law school where the Ten Commandments are found carved outside these classroom doors.

MATTHEW STAVER, DEAN, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW: This is our Supreme Courtroom. It’s modeled after the United States Supreme Court.

AMANPOUR: Nine chairs for nine justices — a classroom that’s meant to be a clone.

(on camera): And, obviously, it’s no accident, because you want to change what the Supreme Court has ruled on.

STAVER: We do. We say that the Supreme Courtroom reflects our supreme vision to restore the rule of law.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Mathew Staver is dean of the law school — a minister who became a lawyer because of abortion. He says no such right is written into the constitution.

STAVER: That doesn’t sound like a rule of law to me. That sounds like somebody making their own ideology under the guise of the rule of law.

Please be seated.

AMANPOUR: It is Staver whose training what the late Jerry Falwell called his next generation of pit bulls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May it please the court. AMANPOUR (on camera): What are the pit bulls to do?

STAVER: Well, the pit bulls, according to Dr. Falwell, and, really, what our vision is, is to raise a new generation of people that understand the rule of law, that are taught that from our Christian traditions and world view.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Staver does more than mold minds. He also runs Liberty Counsel — a legal group which takes its fight over religious freedom into the courts all over the country. Twice he has argued before the real Supreme Court…

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Consider adoption. We would love to adopt your little baby.

AMANPOUR: …the first time against restrictions on picketing at abortion clinics.

Staver’s words that day…

STAVER: Abortion speech or speech about abortion lies at the very core of the first amendment.

AMANPOUR: The last time on behalf of the laws of God.

STAVER: This is the United States Supreme Court when I argued the Ten Commandments case out of Kentucky.

AMANPOUR: At issue — the public display of the Ten Commandments inside a county courthouse. Staver lost in a 5-4 ruling.

But there’s nothing in the bible that would say to Staver thou shalt not litigate again. And so, way down on the Suwannee River, Dixie County, Florida has become the dean’s new battleground over the Ten Commandments.

This six-ton granite monument carved by the local gravestone salesman sits on the courthouse steps. It is a clear example of what the Supreme Court has disallowed — a standalone monument on government property with an obvious religious message — love God and keep his commandments.

TOBY DICKEY, LOCAL RESIDENT: Maybe some of the things in the constitution need to be changed, such as this right here, you know?

I’m not an authority on law or nothing like that. But I know for a fact that the people in this county right here are in favor of it.

AMANPOUR: This time Staver expects to win.


STAVER: There is absolutely no question that the court has a different makeup and will likely come to a different decision.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): These days, they may find a Supreme Court more sympathetic to conservative religious concerns like their own. In its first full year with Chief Justice John Roberts and his newest colleague, Samuel Alito, the Court has tilted noticeably to the right.

STAVER: It’s a new court, a new ballgame, a new outcome not only in public expressions of religion, but in many other areas, as well.

AMANPOUR: Yet all the changes have come in close 5-4 decisions. And so it’s clear that whoever wins the 2008 presidential election could sway the court’s direction one way or the other for years to come. TOOBIN: You know, the two biggest liberals on the court are John Paul Stevens, who is 87-years-old, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who is 75- years-old. If the two of them were replaced by justices similar to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, the religious right will have won in the Supreme Court and the law will be transformed beyond recognition.

AMANPOUR: So what will that mean to America?

TOOBIN: You’re going to have abortion illegal in large parts of the country. You’re going to have schools allowing a lot more religious observance within them.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): That is music to Matt Staver’s ears and division of America that he and his students would embrace — the answer to their prayers.

STAVER: There’s no question we’ll keep fighting at the Supreme Court until we have a new day. We never ever, ever give up.