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The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party

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Judicial Nominees

The Independent Judiciary web site provides current information and the latest news on nominations to the federal bench.

N.C. Judge Has Spent 15 Years as A Nominee, Washington Post, May 12, 2005

Bush judicial nominees could shake the foundations of environmental law, Grist Magazine, January 20, 2005

Split Panel Sends Renominated Candidate to Full Senate, New York Times, March 18, 2005

Three Nominees, Washington Post, March 17, 2005

They're Back, and Still Unworthy (On Judicial Myers, Boyle and Griffith), New York Times, March 11, 2005

James Leon Holmes is Bush's most recent nomination. From Americans United, July 5, 2004:

Noting that "Christianity transcends the political order and cannot be subordinated to the political order," he also suggested that eventually religion and government would be one.

"The final reunion of Church and state will take place at the end of time, when Christ will claim definitive political power of all creation, inaugurating an entirely new society based on the supernatural," Holmes declared at the religious gathering.

In a 1997 article for an Arkansas publication, he and his wife wrote that, "The wife is subordinate to herself and to her husband" and that "the woman is to place herself under the authority of the man."

Holmes was confimred by the full Senate on July 6 by a 51-46 vote. From the New York Times, July 6, 2004:

The judicial nomination wars, dormant in recent months, re-emerged Tuesday as the Senate narrowly confirmed one of President Bush's nominees to the bench who has argued that abortion is akin to the Holocaust and that the Bible requires women to be subservient to men.

Michael McConnell, appointed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, said, "Freedom flourishes when man is subordinate to God."

William Pryor, Attorney General of Alabama, was installed on February 20, 2004 on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit without Senate approval. He was appointed in another late Friday announcement timed to avoid public attention. It was the second time within five weeks that President Bush used a recess appointment to place a widely opposed, far-right ideologue on the federal courts. The other recess appointment was Charles Pickering who took extraordinary and ethically questionable steps to try to reduce a mandatory jail sentence for a man convicted of burning an eight-foot cross on the lawn of an interracial couple. 

"If you had gone and designed a candidate for a judicial appointment who would be most destructive to the areas of civil rights, environmental protection, separation of church and state, reproductive rights, you would be hard-pressed to come up with any candidate other than Bill Pryor," said Hank Caddell, Civil Rights Attorney.

William Pryor said at a Save the Commandments Rally, 1977, "God has chosen, through his son Jesus Christ, this time and this place for all Christians… to save our country and save our courts."

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee accused the Democrats, who opposed William Pryor's nomination, of anti-catholicism.

The Republicans took a similar tack earlier this year when they accused Democrats who opposed Miguel Estrada, a far-right nominee for a D.C.-based federal appeals court, of being anti-Hispanic, and opponents of Priscilla Owen, a far-right nominee for a federal appeals court based in New Orleans, of being anti-woman. In each case the opposition had to do with the nominee's judicial views, and that's true as well with Mr. Pryor.

On one level, it is almost comical to watch Republican senators like Jeff Sessions, a Methodist, and Orrin Hatch, a Mormon, accuse Democrats like Patrick Leahy, Edward Kennedy and Richard Durbin -- all Catholics -- of anti-Catholicism. What is not funny, however, is the way these charges needlessly set group against group.

Janice Brown was described by the New York Times as "among the very worst" of Bush's nominees:

[Janice Brown's] judicial philosophy puts her even further to the right than the most far-right justices now sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Carolyn Kuhl threw out a suit brought by a woman with breast cancer whose doctor had brought a drug company salesman into the examining room where he witnessed an intimate examination of her.  A unanimous appeals court later reversed Kuhl's decision.

Priscilla Owen represents the "far right wing" of the Texas Supreme Court.  One of her many rightward dissents from that court's majority opinions was described as an "unconscionable act of judicial activism" by Alberto Gonzalez, President Bush's chief White House Counsel who was then also a justice on the Texas court.

Deborah Cook

In eight years on the Ohio Supreme Court, Justice Cook has been a steady voice against injured workers, discrimination victims and consumers. The court's most prolific dissenter, she frequently breaks with her Republican colleagues to side with big business and insurance companies. Often she reaches for a harsh legal technicality to send a hapless victim home empty-handed.

Miguel Estrada was Bush's nominee to the United States Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit, considered a stepping stone to the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Democrats filibustered Estrada's nomination, and he finally withdrew his nomination. New York Times on Estrada.

Assistant Atty. Gen. Jay S. Bybee who wrote the infamous memo in effect defending torture is now a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judge.

Three Links from on Judicial Nominations

On pro-choice, moderate Republicans who are supporting the Bush nominees:

On the importance of appellate court judges: the Supreme Court hears only about eighty cases a year, while appellate courts hear tens of thousands of cases. "Appellate judges interpret a huge chunk of the law that we live by.".

"The staff have prepared a compendium of articles, reports and statements relevant to the court-stacking agenda pursued by the Bush administration, and what can be done to stop it. Each article or statement below links to its original publication, where you will find the full text."

Battle of Judicial Nominee Resumes, GOP Leaders Eye Action on Filibuster, Washington Post, March 2, 2005

Last updated: May-2005