Americans United Deplores Senate Judiciary Committee Vote In Favor Of John Roberts

Full Senate Should Reject Chief Justice Nominee, Says Watchdog Group

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today sharply criticized the Senate Judiciary Committee for its vote to confirm Judge John G. Roberts as the next chief justice.

“America deserves a chief justice who understands and appreciates the religious diversity of the country, a chief justice who realizes that separation of church and state is the basis for our religious freedom,” said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United.  “That’s not John Roberts. He’s the wrong candidate for the job.”

Lynn noted that during his service in the first Bush administration, Roberts coauthored briefs at the Supreme Court urging the justices to move to a weaker standard that would allow more government promotion of religion.

During his confirmation hearings, Roberts was asked if he agreed with John F. Kennedy’s belief in an America “where the separation of church and state is absolute.” Instead of answering yes or no, Roberts equivocated and said it depends on what is meant by absolute.

Before the hearings, Americans United issued a report (PDF) detailing Roberts’ poor track record in defending the rights of religious minorities.

“As the United States becomes more religiously diverse in the years to come, we are going to need church-state separation more than ever,” Lynn said. “I don’t trust John Roberts to protect the rights of all Americans.”

Lynn called on the full Senate to reject Roberts’ nomination.

“Chief Justice John Roberts is a risk our nation simply can’t afford to take,” he said.

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.

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.