Americans United for Separation of Church and State has urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the nomination of California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown to a federal appeals court, saying her views on religious liberty are extreme.
President George W. Bush has nominated Brown for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She is already being talked about as a candidate for the Supreme Court, should openings occur during a second Bush term.
In an Oct. 21 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Americans United urged that Brown's nomination be rejected.
The letter cites instances where Brown has criticized church-state separation and other long-standing constitutional protections.
In a 1999 speech at Pepperdine University, Brown accused the Supreme Court of over-reliance "on a rather uninformative metaphor of the 'wall of separation' between church and state. And that was their substitute for really getting in and trying to figure out what this meant."
Brown has also stated that the high court may have been wrong in 1940 to assert that the 14th Amendment applies the Bill of Rights to the states. During the Pepperdine speech, she said the court "relied on some historical materials which [are] not overwhelming. The argument on the other side is pretty overwhelming that it's probably not incorporated."
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, said this last point is perhaps the most telling example of Brown's extreme views.
"It is unfathomable to me that in 2003 anyone would seriously argue that Alabama, for example, could declare an official state religion," said Lynn. "Yet that is the practical effect of Brown's views. That alone should disqualify her from the federal bench."
Added Lynn, "Janice Rogers Brown is merely the latest in a string of Bush court nominees who seek to undermine religious freedom by knocking down the wall of separation between church and state. She is unqualified for this important public trust, and I urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject her nomination."
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.