Former Senator Attacks Supreme Court Rulings At Secret CNP Meeting

Former U.S. senator Fred Thompson unleashed a stinging attack on the Supreme Court for its rulings on church and state during a May 12 meeting of the Council for National Policy (CNP) in Tysons Corner, Va.

Thompson, who represented Tennes­see as a Republican for two terms, is considering a run for the presidency. His possible candidacy has been welcomed by some Religious Right leaders who are unhappy with the current GOP field.

Thompson began by lauding what he called the “first principles” of America. These include, he said, “a recognition of God and the fact there are certain rights that come from Him and not the government.” These concepts, he opined, are found in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Thompson then blasted the high court for engineering social policy. He told the crowd, “Many federal judges seem intent on eliminating God from the public schools and the public square in ways that would astound our Founding Fathers. We never know when a five-to-four Supreme Court decision will uphold them. They ignore the fact that the founders were protecting the church from the state and not the other way around.”

The ex-senator was not known as a prominent champion of the Religious Right agenda during his two terms in the Senate but appears eager to court the bloc now. News reports indicated that Thompson was introduced at the CNP meeting by none other than Dr. Richard Land, chief lobbyist for the Southern Baptist Convention. Land and other fundamentalist leaders are desperately searching for a GOP candidate who can successfully carry the Religious Right flag into the 2008 battle.

Land has enthused over Thompson in the media, calling him a “southern-fried Reagan.”

Thompson’s remarks to the CNP were later posted on the National Review’s Web site.

The CNP is a secretive collection of leaders of far-right groups, including many Religious Right organizations, that meets regularly to plot strategy. Recent reports have indicated that the organization’s membership is split over which Republican candidate to support in 2008.

(For more on the activities of the CNP, see “Behind Closed Doors,” October 2004 Church & State.)