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Constitutional Scholars Blast White House, Dobson Collaboration On Miers

Washington DC (PRWEB) October 14, 2005

The Campaign to Defend the Constitution today asked the White House to end the special access given to James Dobson and other leaders of the religious right in the selection of Supreme Court and other judges and to reaffirm publicly the President’s and Harriet Miers’ recognition of the Constitution as the highest law in the land.

“The special access and undue influence that James Dobson and other leaders of the religious right are given by the President and his staff are troubling and disturbing,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, professor of law at Duke University. “The President and his aides can consult whomever they wish, but the process of choosing a Supreme Court justice should be based on merit and, of course, understanding of and loyalty to the Constitution. The blessing of the religious right should not determine a person’s suitability to serve on the Supreme Court.”

Reports in recent days have made clear that Karl Rove gave special notice to James Dobson and possibly to other leaders of the religious right and sought their approval in the days leading up to the Miers announcement. While Senators constitutionally empowered to approve the nomination were kept in the dark, the White House actively courted the religious right, making the case for Miers and seeking their support.

A CNN report this morning called James Dobson and his 26 million-member network “an empire” with “enormous reach” in the Bush White House and on Capitol Hill.

“I am deeply troubled by the appearance that the President is applying a religious litmus test for his judicial appointments,” said Professor Isaac Kramnick, professor of government at Cornell University. “Such a test violates the Constitutional prohibition on religious tests as a qualification for public office.

“Since 2002, the President has repeatedly said that he will appoint judges who believe that God is the source of our civil rights. The notion of asking judges to acknowledge a source of law other than — and perhaps higher than — the Constitution is unacceptable. It shatters the fundamental premise of our founders that the Constitution itself is the supreme law of the land.”

Professors Chemerinsky and Kramnick are members of the Advisory Board of the Campaign to Defend the Constitution. Chermerinsky was the lead attorney in Perry v. Van Orden, the case decided in June by the Supreme Court on public display of the Ten Commandments on government property. Kramnick is author of “The Godless Constitution.” Both are considered among the country’s leading scholars on religious liberties and separation of church and state.

The Campaign to Defend the Constitution was launched this month to bring together a diverse coalition of Americans concerned about the growing power and influence of the religious right over American politics, culture and science. The Campaign’s Advisory Board includes leading scientists, legal scholars, clergy and other activists. In its first weeks, the Campaign has already attracted thousands of supporters through its website, www.defconamerica.org.

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