Court Nominee Brown Declares Nation In ‘War’ Over Religious Values

Federal court nominee Janice Rogers Brown’s recent intemperate comments about religion and government are additional proof that she is unfit for the federal bench, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Employing strident rhetoric often heard from TV preachers, Brown told attendees at a church-sponsored breakfast for judges and lawyers April 24 in Connecticut that America is in the midst of a “war” over religious values.

“There seems to have been no time since the Civil War that this country was so bitterly divided,” Brown observed. “It’s not a shooting war, but it is a war…. 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.”

Brown, speaking in Darien, Conn., at the invitation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, asserted that atheistic humanism “handed human destiny over to the great god, autonomy, and this is quite a different idea of freedom. Freedom then becomes willfulness.”

Observed Brown, “You can be spiritual. You can meditate as long as you don’t have a book that says something about right and wrong.

Brown’s comments were first reported in the Stamford Advocate and then celebrated by Gary Bauer, a Religious Right leader who supports Brown’s nomination.

Calling the comments divisive and intemperate, Americans United urged the Senate to reject Brown’s nomination to the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

AU says Brown, currently a justice on the California Supreme Court, has extreme views in a number of areas. She has criticized the separation of church and state and once opined that the Bill of Rights may not be binding on the states.

Despite her non-mainstream views, the Senate Judiciary Committee in late April voted to send Brown’s nomination to the full Senate. Democrats are expected to use a filibuster to bottle up her appointment.

Just weeks after the vote on Brown, the Judiciary Committee also approved the nomination of former Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Pryor was named to a temporary term on the court by President George W. Bush last year, but Senate Democrats are blocking making a permanent appointment.

Americans United has fought Pryor’s nomination from the beginning, citing a litany of public comments and actions hostile to church-state separation.

During most of his tenure as Alabama attorney general, Pryor vigorously supported former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s efforts to keep a Ten Commandments display in the state Judicial Building. Pryor has often attacked federal court precedent, once telling a lawyers’ society that the First Amendment does not mandate “the strict separation of church and state.” He has also questioned whether federal court rulings are binding on the states.