A member of a Florida commission that helps select state court judges has inappropriately asked nominees about their religious beliefs and should be removed from office, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The Miami Daily Business Review reported Jan. 8 that Broward Judicial Nomination Commission (JNC) member O'Neal Dozier has asked several candidates for Broward County judgeships inappropriate questions about their religious beliefs, such as whether they attend church and are "God-fearing." Several of those judicial nominees complained about those types of questions
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, sent a letter to Gov. Bush today calling on him to fire Dozier.
"Dozier's overt religious bigotry is wholly unacceptable and he must no longer be allowed an official role in the selection of judges in Florida," Lynn wrote. "It is appalling that in 2004 judicial nominees are being subjected to an inquisition. Religious litmus tests are unconstitutional in America."
In addition to grilling candidates about religion, Dozier has also been accused of questioning judicial candidates about their personal lives and their stands on controversial social issues. One woman said she was asked whether she could balance her duties as a single mother of twins with her duties as a judge. Another candidate was asked his opinions on the Supreme Court's decision last summer that overturned a Texas sodomy law.
According to the Miami Daily Business Review, Dozier said such questions are appropriate. "I am totally against that ruling," he told the newspaper. "We cannot have a judge who feels sodomy is OK."
Dozier has repeatedly expressed an intolerant and theocratic approach to government. According to a report in the New Times Broward-Palm Beach late last year, Dozier told a Religious Right gathering, "We as Christians must take control of the government. We should be the ones in charge of the government."
New Times said Dozier also observed that homosexuality is "something so nasty and disgusting that it makes God want to vomit."
According to the more recent Miami Business Review article, Dozier said, "There is no such animal as separation of church and state in the Constitution."
Dozier was appointed to the judicial nomination commission by Gov. Bush, and AU's Lynn urged Bush to act quickly to remove Dozier from that official post.
"As I am sure you are aware," Lynn wrote, "state and federal law forbid religious tests for public office. In our highly pluralistic society, it is outrageous to require judicial nominees to profess certain religious beliefs, participate in religious activities or conform their lives to the tenets of a particular faith."
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.