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America Needs Judges to Stand Up for Religious Liberty and Constitutional Rights

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August 20, 2021
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by Liberty McArtor and Jorge Gomez • 6 min read

The Left is doubling down in its attempt to stage a Supreme Court Coup by packing America’s courts with hundreds of liberal judges, arguing that doing so will “restore balance” to the courts and better serve Americans.

But although proponents of court-packing demand a higher quantity of judges, what Americans really need are quality judges committed to upholding the Constitution—without politics swaying their judicial rulings.

Standing out as a quality judge on our federal courts is Judge James C. Ho, whose rulings consistently exemplify the kind of originalist judicial philosophy that is key to protecting constitutional rights.

Judge Ho, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, wrote a dissenting opinion arguing that vaccine mandates are subject to robust protections for religious objectors under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. In Horvath v. City of Leander, Judge Ho’s dissent made the case that people of faith deserve protection under the Constitution when they object to vaccine mandates on religious grounds when the government offers exceptions.

Of course, every vaccine mandate has a medical exemption. Judge Ho called for a full restoration of religious liberty as the Founders intended. But at the very least, Judge Ho makes the case that when there are exemptions, religious objectors to vaccine mandates deserve the highest level of protection the First Amendment provides.

Judge Ho’s Record on Constitutional Freedoms

Defending constitutional principles is nothing new for Judge Ho. In fact, he has a strong record of standing up for religious freedom and other key First Amendment liberties in his rulings. This comes as no surprise, as he was formerly one of First Liberty’s most active volunteer network attorneys prior to becoming a judge.

We find one example in his concurring opinion in Life Tabernacle Church v. Governor John Bel Edwards, a case litigated in 2020 that involved violations of religious freedom and infringement of rights by abusive public officials amid pandemic lockdowns. Judge Ho defended religious freedom in his ruling, stating:

“People of faith demoralized by coercive shutdown policies, that raises a question: If officials are now exempting protesters, how can they justify continuing to restrict worshippers? The answer is that they can’t. Government does not have carte blanche, even in a pandemic, to pick and choose which First Amendment rights are ‘open’ and which remain ‘closed.’”

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Judge Ho issued another important opinion in a case involving the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was ordered to hand over 6,000 pages of its internal correspondence as part of the legal discovery process. In his opinion siding with the Catholic Bishops, Judge Ho wrote:

“It is hard to imagine a better example of how far we have strayed from the text and original understanding of the Constitution than this case. The First Amendment expressly guarantees the free exercise of religion…it’s with regret that the relief we grant today is even necessary.”

Judge Ho is only one judge—but his originalist judicial philosophy causes a ripple effect with every ruling, setting precedents that protect core constitutional rights for millions of Americans. In just the examples mentioned above, Judge Ho’s opinions have been critical in pushing back against harmful ideologies that promote discrimination. His rulings have protected Americans’ First Amendment freedoms and defended religious groups from unconstitutional interference.

This is the impact that quality judges have on our God-given rights, and it shows why we need more judges like James Ho, who will interpret the law and not legislate from the bench.

Make Your Voice Heard: Step Up and Defend the Heritage of America’s Judiciary

Far from promoting principled, quality judges, the radical push to install four more justices on the U.S. Supreme Court and hundreds of lower court judges boils down to one thing: the Left’s hunger for power. And their power-grab won’t stop until they’ve filled the judiciary with partisan judges that will rubber stamp their radically progressive political agenda. If their plot succeeds, it will destroy the judicial independence exemplified by Judge Ho—the judicial independence necessary to stop other government branches from reaching too far and trampling cherished freedoms.

First Liberty is leading a coalition of American patriots who are standing up to oppose the Left’s court-packing scheme. So far, more than 70,000 Americans have signed our letter warning the Biden administration of the detrimental impact court-packing will have on our freedoms. Make a difference by adding your name today and exposing the dangerous scheme to overthrow our nation’s court system.

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