If you live in Washington, D.C., or have sojourned there in the past, then you know that a high percentage of folks in the Beltway chattering classes wake up every morning with a dose of Mike Allen.
This was true in his "Playbook" days at The Politico and it's true now that he has moved on to create the Axios website, which is must-reading in this troubled Donald Trump era.
So if you want to know what DC folks are thinking about -- after King Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court -- then it's logical to do a quick scan of Allen's punchy offerings today in the "Axios AM" digital newsletter (click here to see it in a browser). At this here weblog, that means looking for religion-beat hooks. It doesn't take a lot of effort to find them. For example:
Behind the scenes: Trump doesn’t personally care that much about some of the social issues, such as LGBT rights, energizing the Republican base over the Supreme Court.
But Trump knows how much his base cares about the court. He believes that releasing his list of potential court picks during the campaign was a masterstroke, and helped him win.
What part of the GOP base is Allen talking about? That's obvious. However, journalists covering this angle really need to see if many cultural conservatives are all that interested in rolling back gay-rights victories at the high court.
Most of the people I know understand that this ship has sailed, in post-Christian American culture, and they are primarily interested in seeing a strong court decision defending some kind of conscientious objection status and/or a clear rejection of government compelled speech and artistic expression. In other words, they would like to see an old-school liberal ruling on First Amendment grounds.
As I have said here many times, I know very, very few religious conservatives who wanted to vote for Trump. However, I heard lots of people say something like this: I don't know what Donald Trump is going to do. But I do know what Hillary Rodham Clinton is going to do. I'm going to have to take a risk. They were talking about SCOTUS and the First Amendment.
Back to Allen: