Supreme Court ruling restores Donald Trump to presidential ballots

Supreme Court ruling restores Donald Trump to presidential ballots March 5, 2024

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that states lack the power to reject presidential candidates on the grounds that they engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the US. This decision restores former President Donald Trump’s name to the Colorado ballot and ends similar challenges to his candidacy elsewhere.

I am not making a partisan statement by expressing my gratitude that the ruling was 9–0. Given the acrimony surrounding the Court in particular and our politics in general, such unanimity is welcome.

In our system of governance, the Supreme Court is our final legal authority. The Founders envisioned a court free from partisan entanglements, so they invested the justices with unelected, lifetime tenures. However, they knew that the members would be nominated by presidents who espoused and represented political groups and agendas, so they required the nominees to be confirmed by the Senate (US Constitution, Article II, section 2). Such confirmation historically required a sixty-vote supermajority, hopefully ensuring some level of bipartisan support for the candidate, but the threshold was lowered to a simple majority in recent years.

This simple majority confirmed three of President Trump’s nominees, giving the Court a 6–3 conservative majority and incurring significant backlash from Democrats, only 24 percent of whom now view the Supreme Court favorably. For their part, many Republicans view the numerous court cases against Mr. Trump as “lawfare” animosity directed against him.

In a democratic republic in particular, and in life in general, autonomous authority can be dangerous. Nowhere is this more true today than with the growing threat represented by artificial intelligence, our focus for this week.

Black Vikings and a female pope?

Google’s AI tool Gemini made headlines recently after generating inaccurate and offensive images and prompting an apology from the company. Its image service produced Black Vikings, an Asian woman in a German World War II-era military uniform, and a female pope.

When asked how to prevent generative AI tools from being misappropriated by bad actors such as authoritarian regimes looking to spread propaganda, a Google executive had no simple answer. The issue is “very complex,” he stated, likely demanding a whole-of-society response to determine and enforce limits.

But the problem is far deeper and more troubling.

In an extensive analysis, American statistician and writer Nate Silver reports: “Gemini’s results are heavily inflected with politics in ways that often render it biased, inaccurate, and misinformative.”

He notes that Google’s seven core AI principles include no explicit mandate for its models to be honest or unbiased. Its first core principle, “Be socially beneficial,” is especially concerning. Google says it interprets this principle with regard to “cultural, social, and legal norms in the countries where we operate.” However, with no principled attempt to present honest or unbiased results, Google’s images and search engine results will reflect the company’s views on what being “socially beneficial” constitutes.

Cultural commentator Andrew Sullivan takes a step further by examining ways Google’s use of AI will accelerate its biased control of our internet usage (where it commands more than 90 percent of the search engine market) and our larger culture:

From every search we make to every AI request we type, Google will embed neoracism, anti-whiteness, and critical race, gender, and queer theory. Google can indoctrinate by simply removing facts from the ether, or altering them to “prevent harm” . . . in an information system in which wokeness generates a “socially beneficial” reality rather than an actual one.

Given the company’s passionate LGBTQ advocacy and allegations of religious discrimination against it, what will this mean for conservative Christians and anyone else who disagrees with Google’s progressive worldview?

What it means to live spiritually

Google’s biased use of AI tools to advance its version of a “socially beneficial” reality betrays a deeper fault line that runs through every human soul: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:10–11). We are each finite and fallen. None of us knows what is truly best for ourselves or others.

This is why God exhorts us:

Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lᴏʀᴅ who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lᴏʀᴅ (Jeremiah 9:23–24).

St. Basil the Great (330–79) commented: “Humanity, there is nothing left for you to boast of, for your boasting and hope lie in putting to death all that is your own and seeking the future life that is in Christ.”

Our goal every day should be to:

  • Submit to God’s Spirit (Ephesians 4:15).
  • Seek God’s wisdom (James 1:5).
  • And live by God’s power (Ephesians 3:20)
  • for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Otherwise, like Google’s AI tool, we will follow our fallen “programming” by seeking what we believe to be in our personal interest and forfeiting God’s best for our lives and culture.

Henri Nouwen explained what it meant for him to live spiritually: “Living with Jesus at the center.” He explained:

“What matters increasingly is getting to know Jesus and living in solidarity with him.”

What—or Who—“matters increasingly” to you?

NOTE: This is my last note about A Great Calm, a devotional that my wife wrote for believers going through hard times. A Great Calm offers biblical encouragement that God’s peace can be found and experienced—daily. I pray that it draws you closer to the Father and the peace that passes understanding which only he can provide. Please request your copy of A Great Calm today.

Tuesday news to know

Quote for the day

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.” —Oswald Chambers

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