FRC 'Very Encouraged' by Supreme Court Nomination, To Host 'Justice Sunday III'

WASHINGTON - The Family Research Council is “very encouraged” by the nomination of Supreme Court Nominee Judge Samuel Alito and plans to host its third "Justice Sunday" television program to draw attention to the court, the head of the conservative Christian organization announced Tuesday.

Tony Perkins, the president of FRC, said millions of families will have the chance to participate in the national debate over the proper role of judges in the nation through Justice Sunday III. He also said the FRC will launch an ad campaign to draw attention to "activist judges" that have ruled to remove God from the public square.

At a press conference on Judge Alito's nomination at the group's Washington headquarters, Perkins and his staff said the new nominee seemed to understand the role of the judiciary in the proper way; that a justice is meant to interpret the law and leave the lawmaking to the legislators.

However the group would wait out the confirmation process before endorsing the judge.

“Let me be very clear on that," said Perkins. "We are not withholding public support for this nominee because we’re concerned about anything we see on his record.’

On the contrary, he continued, “there’s no question over this nominee, and that’s what’s encouraging about this nominee.”

"[The] president has kept his pledge to the American people that he would nominate [a justice] who had judicial philosophies along the lines of Justices Scalia and Thomas,” he added, referring to two Judges who many view as the most conservative on the nation’s high court.

Earlier this year, the FRC helped sponsor "Justice Sunday" and "Justice Sunday II" in April and August, respectively. The television programs, airing mostly on Christian broadcast and satellite stations, brought together prominent figures within evangelical Christianity to discuss what the proper role of the judiciary should be in the nation.

According to Tuesday's announcement, the third version of the program will air on Sunday, Dec. 4, but further details will be released in the coming weeks.

In explaining the need for such a program, Perkins charged the liberal members of the senate for “masquerading as champions for the downtrodden and hiding behind those issues.”

“In fact, what they’re doing in this process is they’re trying to protect the last vehicle they have to impose their radical policy agendas and ideas on the American public. And it’s through the courts," he said. "That is the discussion that this nation needs to have."

Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Senior Fellow for Legal Studies at FRC, also stepped to the podium to speak about religious liberty. She argued that the intention of the founding fathers of the country had been lost when it came to that issue.

“Americans have always been a people of faith and our faith is recognized in our most important public document, the Declaration of Independence, which speaks of inalienable rights that are endowed by our Creator – the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” she said.

“Sadly the first amendment’s freedom of religion has been turned on its head, so that freedom of religion has become the freedom from religion,” she added.

She mentioned a court case about Zachary Hood of New Jersey, a kindergartener, who was instructed by his teacher to make a poster of something he was thankful for. In the poster, which was displayed along with others in the class by the teacher, the boy said he was thankful for Jesus. However, another school employee later removed it because of its religious nature, later placing it in a less visible position.

Judge Alito commented on the case, which was dismissed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in 2000. He said that by affirming the dismissal by a previous court, the judges had taken the position that the school was allowed to practice "viewpoint discrimination" which was "at odds with fundamental First Amendment principles.

“Viewpoint discrimination strikes at the heart of the freedom of expression," Alito wrote.

“Judge Samuel Alito seems to be a judge that understands that freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion,” Ruse said. “He seems to be someone who understands that Zachary should not be discriminated against because – when asked to depict in a poster what he is most grateful for – he drew a picture of Jesus.”

Connie Mackey, Vice President for Government Relations at FRC said that the Senate should give Alito a hearing in a timely manner and not be delayed by the “stall tactics of the extreme left.”

She said that current Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had served as the chief counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, had been approved by the Senate without “political games” by both democrats and republicans, which is why Alito should be given the same consideration, taking into account his long standing service as a judge.

“His opinions on the religious freedom of all. Christians, Muslims, and Jews reflect his respect for the constitution and what it stands for,” she said.

With regard to the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor – the first woman to sit in the High Court and one of two women justices currently serving the court – a female staff member of the FRC said she believes the vacant position should be available for all Americans, regardless of gender, religion or race.

“As a professional woman with a Ph. D., I can tell you today that Justice Ginsburg is not my representative on the Supreme Court," said Charmaine Yoest, Senior Fellow of Policy Studies at the FRC, referencing the only other female Justice. "However, nor was she meant to be.”

She said that the job of each justice was to interpret the constitution to the best of his or her ability.