By Tim Wildmon | AFA President

We may long remember January 31, 2006, as the most important date in our republic’s recent history. On that day Samuel Alito was confirmed by the U. S. Senate to replace the retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The vote was 58-42.

The reason this vote was so important is that Justice O’Connor was often a pivotal vote against traditional values in many of the critical decisions of our time. Despite being appointed by the most conservative president of the modern era, President Ronald Reagan, O’Connor was a liberal on social/moral issues.

In addition, Justices Anthony Kennedy and David Souter — appointed by Reagan and President George H.W. Bush respectively — also turned out to be disappointments to those who voted for Republican presidents in hopes of seeing the Supreme Court return to a conservative majority. By conservative, I mean an ideology that basically says citizens should determine the laws of the nation through their duly elected representatives instead of the Supreme Court denying them (us) the opportunity to do so by striking down laws that supported traditional moral values or a Biblical worldview.

Despite the advances of secularism and relativism in America, I still believe our side — the traditionalist side — can win on most issues at a legislative level, if only because we will out- work those on the Left. When it comes to affecting politics and public policy, we can win at the local level, at the state level and in the United States Congress. The problem has been that we work hard, elect the right people (even good presidents), get laws passed and then some federal court negates all of our hard work with one ruling. It happens regularly.

To say the least, this has been extremely frustrating for those of us in the pro-life, pro-family movement.

One of the most egregious recent examples of this pattern was the May 12, 2005, decision rendered by Federal Judge Joseph Battaillon striking down an amendment to the state constitution of Nebraska which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. This was a state-wide referendum in November 2004 which passed with 70% of the citizens voting in favor of the amendment. But Judge Joseph ignored the will of the voters in Nebraska and struck down the marriage amendment.

This is what many in this country are tired of, I believe. And so they put their trust in President George W. Bush to appoint federal judges who are not going to do this type of thing.

And despite his low approval ratings and some areas of strong disagreement with his conservative base, President Bush has not disappointed. He has followed through with his campaign promise to appoint conservative judges to the federal bench. In the process, liberals in the Senate have fought him tooth and nail on many of his appointments, often using character assassination against nominees and distorting their records or deliberately taking statements out of context.

On more than one occasion they have even used trumped-up charges of racism against conservative nominees. But I believe this partisan bickering and "gotcha politics" has grown tiresome even among fair-minded Democrats.

Today is a new day. Assuming new Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Alito are both the strong conservatives we now have four votes (including Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia) in favor of returning the right of self-governance to the states and municipalities, and thus returning government to the people.

But that is still only four votes . Five votes are needed to bring about real change in American jurisprudence at the federal level. Said Gary Bauer, president of American Values: "This is an important victory, my friends. I fully expect Justice Alito will make a crucial difference, especially when it comes to ending the high court’s hostility to the free exercise of religion in the public square. But the battle is not over. We are one step closer, but we still do not have a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. For all the liberal bluster about ‘balance,’ the Supreme Court has four liberal justices — Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, and Stevens, and four conservative justices — Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas. That means Justice Anthony Kennedy is the ‘new O’Connor’ or swing vote."

What we really need is for another liberal justice to retire so that President Bush can solidify a conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

Will that happen? Only time will tell.