In January 2018, Right Wing Watch broke the story that lawyers for religious-right legal giant Alliance Defending Freedom bragged at an anti-choice conference that the 15-week abortion ban that had been introduced in Mississippi was based on ADF’s model language. ADF lawyers said the law was the next step in the group’s strategic plan to “eradicate” Roe v. Wade through the courts.
Now, nearly four years later, legal challenges to the Mississippi law have made their way to the Supreme Court, which will hear Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Wednesday, Dec. 1. Religious-right groups hope that the court’s right-wing justices will use the case to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to criminalize abortion outright. The Supreme Court could also make Roe “irrelevant” without formally reversing it.
ADF is using the hearing to raise money. In a fundraising Monday morning email, the group told supporters that the court could use Dobbs to overturn Roe. Last week, ADF sent a fundraising pitch that offered supporters a chance to download its “Generational Wins Prayer Guide” for the Dobbs case. (ADF also hopes to achieve a “generational win” that would overturn marriage equality for same-sex couples.)
On Thanksgiving, Intercessors for America, a network of right-wing pastors and religious-right activists, called Dobbs “the most crucial Supreme Court case in 45 years.” On Thursday and again on Friday, it urged its supporters to sign its “emergency pro-life amicus brief” as a “citizen co-sponsor.” IFA wrote, “Let the Supreme Court know that while abortion may be the law of the land now, but with the power of prayer we can overcome!”
The Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank, called the Dobbs case a “chance at redemption” for the court in a Monday email.
ADF’s Monday email bragged about the record number of legal briefs that were filed in support of the Mississippi abortion ban. The Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the National Association of Evangelicals are among the many religious-right groups signing amicus briefs urging the Court to overturn Roe and allow states to criminalize abortion. Joining them is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Family Research Council hosted and streamed a two-hour event from a Jackson, Mississippi, church Sunday night that was emceed by FRC President Tony Perkins and featured an array of anti-choice religious and political leaders praying that the Court would overturn Roe. ADF President Mike Farris and Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser joined the broadcast from the steps of the Supreme Court, where Farris prayed that the justices would not ask Mississippi’s lawyers any questions they had not prepared for. Anti-choice activist Tina Whittington prayed about the importance of young people “engaging with our government to see Heaven’s values on life rule in our land.”
Among the other speakers was California-based pastor Jack Hibbs, an associate of Christian nationalist political operative David Lane and an ardent Trump supporter. This summer, Hibbs preached that President Joe Biden should be court-martialed and removed from office; a month earlier he asked God to forgive Californians for electing “people with antichrist” worldviews “like Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris.” Hibbs said on Sunday night that Dobbs case “will define whether God remains in this nation or not.”
Also joining the FRC broadcast were anti-abortion extremist Flip Benham and his grandson, anti-choice activist Alveda King, and former Rep. Michele Bachmann, dean of the school of government at Pat Robertson’s Regent University and chair of FRC’s board of directors. Speaking of the Supreme Court, Bachmann said, “But Father, these men are but dust. One day these justices, men and women, their knees will bow, their tongues will confess that you are Lord.”
Some religious-right activists believe that Justice Amy Coney Barrett, confirmed by Senate Republicans just days before voters rejected Donald Trump, was anointed by God to lead the Supreme Court in overturning Roe. Among them was dominionist Lou Engle, who wrote this month that he believes that “God is looking for the Church to respond at this moment, standing with Him in the court of heaven to release a decision in favor of His saints. The ekklesia on earth must agree with the Divine Counsel of Heaven.”
Engle celebrated that the three justices nominated by Trump have created an anti-choice majority on the court, but he warned that those justices are coming under spiritual attack by “demonic forces.” Engle called on his supporters to wage spiritual warfare to “bind these five conservative judges into a coalition of conscience from which they cannot get free.”
Before joining the high court, Barrett was paid at least five times to speak at conferences for recipients of ADF’s Blackstone Legal Fellowship. Right Wing Watch noted in May, when the Supreme Court agreed to hear Dobbs:
During the Trump administration, religious-right leaders and activists repeatedly prayed for God to “remove” Supreme Court justices to give Trump the ability to name justices to the court who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
Last year, Frank Amedia, founder of the dominionist pro-Trump network POTUS Shield, celebrated Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death as a “move of God” that would allow Trump to fulfill prophecies that he would be given three Supreme Court nominations to fill.
When Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the 15-week ban, he said that he wanted his state to be the “safest place in America for an unborn child.” In the Family Research Council broadcast Sunday night, current Gov. Tate Reeves echoed that sentiment, saying that when he was running for governor, he made a commitment to God “that I would do everything in my power to make our state the safest state in the nation for an unborn child.” And he told the audience, “We’re gonna fight together to make this nation the safest place in the world for an unborn child.”
As I noted at the time, when Bryant signed the law, Mississippi was by many measures the least safe state in America for women, infants, and children:
MS Gov Phil Bryant signs 15-week abortion ban, wants Mississippi to be “safest place in America for an unborn child.” MS ranks 50th in health of women, 50th in health of children, 50th in health of infants, 1st in infant mortality. #priorities
— Peter Montgomery (@petemont) March 20, 2018