After compromise, extremist judges win seats on U.S. courts.
Two federal court nominees who have criticized church-state separation were confirmed for lifetime seats on the federal appeals courts in June.
The Senate voted 56-43 June 7 to approve the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown Janice Rogers Brown (born May 11, 1949 in Greenville, Alabama) is a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She previously was an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, holding that post from May 2, 1996 until her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia District of Columbia, federal district (2000 pop. 572,059, a 5.7% decrease in population since the 1990 census), 69 sq mi (179 sq km), on the east bank of the Potomac River, coextensive with the city of Washington, D.C. (the capital of the United States). . Americans United had urged senators to reject Brown's nomination, citing the former California Supreme Court justice's contempt for church-state separation.
In an April 20 letter to senators, Lynn cited a speech Brown gave at Pepperdine University Pepperdine University is a private institution of higher learning affiliated with the Church of Christ in unincorporated Los Angeles County, California, United States. The university's location overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is adjacent to the city limits of Malibu. titled "Beyond the Abyss: Restoring Religion on the Public Square." In that speech, Brown argued against the federal court precedent that says the states are bound to uphold fundamental rights protected in the Constitution and that the Supreme Court has "relied on a rather uninformative un·in·for·ma·tive
Providing little or no information; not informative.
unin·for metaphor of the 'wall of separation of church and state
In April before a Catholic church-sponsored breakfast for judges and lawyers, Brown maintained that the nation was in a "war" over values of Civil War proportions.
"It's not a shooting war, but it is a war ...," she claimed. "These are perilous times for people of faith, not in the sense that we are going to lose our lives, but in the sense that it will cost you something if you are a person of faith who stands up for what you believe in and say those things out loud."
The next day, the Senate voted 53-45 to approve former Alabama attorney general William Pryor William Pryor can refer to multiple individuals:
Americans United had urged the Senate to reject Pryor's nomination, noting his long track record of attacking the First Amendment principle of church-state separation.
Americans United detailed Pryor's fervid support of former Alabama Supreme Court The Supreme Court of Alabama is the highest court in the state of Alabama. The court consists of a Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices, elected in partisan elections for staggered six year terms. Chief Justice Roy Moore's battle to keep an enormous Ten Commandments Ten Commandments or Decalogue [Gr.,=ten words], in the Bible, the summary of divine law given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai. They have a paramount place in the ethical system in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. monument housed within the state's Judicial Building. The group also documented numerous speeches and interviews by Pryor that reveal his record of consistent opposition to the separation of church and state and religious pluralism.
At a rally in 1997 for Moore, Pryor told a gathering of thousands that God had chosen Christians "to save our country and save our courts." As attorney general, Pryor took the unusual step of appointing three Religious Right attorneys to represent Moore in his federal court fight in support of the 2.5-ton Commandments monument.
In court, those attorneys argued that the Decalogue display was not law and therefore could not violate the First Amendment's command to refrain from creating laws "respecting an establishment of religion." They also proclaimed that public schools could teach that America acts under the sovereignty of the Judeo-Christian God without breaching the wall of separation.
The 11th Circuit, however, upheld a U.S. district judge's order that the monument did in fact violate the First Amendment and must be removed from public display.
Senate Democrats had used filibuster filibuster, term used to designate obstructionist tactics in legislative assemblies. It has particular reference to the U.S. Senate, where the tradition of unlimited debate is very strong. It was not until 1917 that the Senate provided for cloture (i.e. rules to block votes on Brown and Pryor. (Under the filibuster, 60 votes are required to bring a nominee to a vote.) In May, however, the Senate's Republican majority threatened to change the filibuster rules. At the last minute, a compromise was reached. Democrats agreed to allow votes on several judges, including Brown and Pryor, to go forward, and Republicans agreed to keep the filibuster rules intact.
Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn Reverend Barry W. Lynn (born 1948 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) has been the Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State since 1992. criticized the deal, saying it continues to permit President George W. Bush to stack the judiciary with extreme nominees.