With the future of the nation's highest court on the line and the confirmation process of Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts in full swing, prominent Christian conservatives will be gathering on television to speak their voice.
The Justice Sunday II television program will air on August 14, focusing on the impact of the the recently vacated Supreme Court spot and its effect on religion and Christianity today. Figures appearing on the show will include James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Charles W. Colson founder Prison Fellowship Ministries, and Pastor Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals.
"People have to understand, this is not just about a process ... This is about the future of the country , it is about our families, it is about the freedom of religion," said Perkins to the New York Times. The Family Research Council and Focus on the family will be co-sponsoring the event.
One speaker at the event will be Ted Haggard, president of the NAE and pastor of New Life Church. He told the Christian Post that his role at the event will be to show the way in which Church members can be involved in the process, all in eight minutes, his allotted time to speak. On the program, he said he would be suggesting that Christians be well read on the events and issues surrounding the nomination.
Where the last edition of Justice Sunday in April placed a focus on stopping filibusters for any general judicial nominee, the difference on this edition of the program is that it comes with the backdrop John Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court. For conservative Christians, and people throughout the United States, the nomination of a potential Justice to the nation's highest court is of paramount importance since the nine judges on the bench rule on the most pressing and relevant issues.
Among the most highly debated matters in the courts today, and of particular importance to Christian conservatives, are the protection of traditional families, pro-life issues, freedom of religion, and preserving historical Christianity, as seen in the recent Ten Commandments cases.
Support for Roberts has been high among the aforementioned participants, based in large part on President George Bush's promise to deliver a conservative judge similar to Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Roberts' credentials for the job have been generally regarded as excellent by most observers on both sides of the political spectrum, though many groups are researching the candidates' past to more clearly understand his judicial philosophy.
Among many of the cases that Roberts has been involved in as both a lawyer and judge, many have been brought to light. Among them, one that would at first glance seem to contradict the nominee's conservative image was recently reported on by the L.A. Times.
In the report, the paper stated that Roberts offered limited help in pro-bono work to the 1996 Supreme Court gay rights case of Romer vs. Evans. He donated about six hours, offering strategic advice that helped secure a victory, according to the lawyer in the case. Some activists consider the 1996 case to be one of the major victories for gay rights movement. The 6-3 Supreme Court vote struck down laws that would have allowed employers and landlords to exclude homosexuals from jobs and housing.
Perkins urged caution in jumping to conclusions about Roberts' role, saying that "Attorneys are not necessarily advocates or activists," and noting Roberts' contribution to the case included asking tough questions that a conservative judge would ask of the lawyer. Perkins says he was also encouraged by a review of other cases and was confident of Roberts judicial philosophy.
Focus on the Family, James Dobson's group, also issued saying the news was not welcome, but that Robert's involvement in the case was also not necessarily reflective of Roberts' views.
Both private and public groups are continuing to do more research into Roberts' past, trying to get a read on a nominee which many say has not clearly defined his stance on important issues.
When President Bush made campaign promises to name a conservative candidate , who would not be an "activist judge" or "legislate from the bench," Christian conservatives understood this to be a call for a Justice who would not veer from the "strict-constructionist" view of the constitution.
The Federal judicial nominations process directly involves three main parties: the President who nominates, the nominee, and the Senate, which confirms the nomination.
The indirect participant is the American public. Christians will be a part of that process on Justice Sunday II.