Justice Sunday

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Justice Sunday was a series of religious conferences organized by the Family Research Council. According to the FRC, the purpose of the events was to encourage the appointment of conservative judicial nominees and to "request an end to filibusters of judicial nominees that were based, at least in part, on the nominees' religious views or imputed inability to decide cases on the basis of the law regardless of their beliefs."[1]

Justice Sunday: Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith

The first "Justice Sunday" held April 24, 2005, was "organized by the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council to rally support for dropping a Senate rule that has let Democrats block Bush's nominees." [1]

Originating from Louisville, Kentucky’s Highview Baptist Church, the event was simulcast via satellite in closed circuit to 400 churches, in a live radio broadcast, and on the internet. Hosted by the Family Research Council's FRC Action, the organization's "legislative arm," and Focus on the Family Action, the event was intended to explain to "conservatives how 'actions in Washington have a direct impact on their lives in the heartland," according to Council president Tony Perkins. More specifically, Perkins said that the broadcast was "aimed at 'stopping the filibuster against people of faith'." [2][3][4][5]

Republican Call to Action

  • "The broadcast organized by Christian conservatives launched the campaign with prominent public figures who called on audience members to telephone senators at their Capitol Hill offices beginning Monday to demand a vote." [6]
  • In a prerecorded message presented to viewers on videotape, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said: "Tell them to do what's right. Tell them to do what's fair. Tell them to do their job, give judicial nominees the up-or-down votes they deserve." [7]
  • "'People need to be warned of what is going on in the battle for confirmation of judges,' said Charles W. Pickering, Sr., a senior partner in a law firm in Jackson, Miss., whose nomination to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans was blocked from a full Senate vote by Democrats for two years." [8]
  • Commented the Chicago Maroon's Hollie Russon Gilman on April 22, 2005, this was "the latest attack by the right-wing conservatives to overturn the congressional power to filibuster." [9]

About the Issue

  • "The filibuster, a 200-year-old tradition in the U.S. Senate, gives 41 senators the right to hold unlimited debate on a subject. It takes 60 votes to end the debate and hold a vote. Democrats have banded together to block votes on 10 of President Bush's nominees, while allowing votes on more than 200 judges," according to the Associated Press. [10]
  • "... But if the filibuster is eliminated, only 51 votes [a majority] would be needed to confirm a judicial nominee. ... Republicans hold 55 seats and Democrats 44, with one independent."[2]
  • "Republicans have threatened to change the Senate's rules to ban procedural hurdles known as filibusters against judicial nominees. Democrats have vowed to retaliate by invoking other procedural hurdles to bring the Senate to a near halt." [11]

Fallout, Possible Blowback: Business Lobby

"The country's leading business lobbying associations, close GOP allies in recent legislative efforts and political campaigns, have told senior Republicans that they would not back the Frist initiative to force votes on President Bush's judicial nominees.

"Business leaders say they fear the move would lead to a shutdown of Senate action on long-awaited priorities — as Democrats have threatened if Frist moves ahead with a rule change that they say would drastically alter the traditions of a body designed to respect the rights of the minority party.

"'If we do that, then all else is going to stop,' Thomas J. Donohue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said during a meeting with reporters Friday," according to the Los Angeles Times, April 24, 2005. [12]

Insult to Federal Judges

In an April 24, 2005, editorial, The Anniston Star wrote: "The organizers of Justice Sunday, a political rally disguised as a church event, have a message for the country: The religiously devout are being barred from serving in the federal judiciary.

"We expect that will come as a surprise — and an insult — to the more than 200 judges nominated and confirmed to the federal bench by President Bush since 2001."[3]

Shift in Strategy

"Buffeted by poor poll numbers, Senate Republicans are stressing the Constitution rather than religion or retribution against activist judges as the reason to deny Democrats the right to block votes on President George W. Bush’s court nominees," the Columbia Daily Tribune reported April 25, 2005. [4]

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, April 24, 2005, several hours prior to "Justice Sunday", Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said "What I do not want to do is cross the line and say those who oppose these nominees are people who lack faith, ... I don’t believe that. I don’t think that’s appropriate." Additionally, Graham "told a group of social conservatives he wants no part of retaliation against sitting judges." [5]

The Polls

"The Republicans framed their rhetoric several days after receiving the results of a private poll that showed only 37 percent support for their plan to strip Democrats of the ability to filibuster judicial appointees. Opposed were 51 percent.

"The same survey indicated only about 20 percent believe the GOP claim that Bush is the first president in history whose court appointees have been subjected to filibusters, a tactic in which opponents can prevent a vote unless supporters gain 60 votes.

"The poll did contain some encouraging news for Republicans. Even among self-described Democrats, support for granting court appointees a yes-or-no vote exceeded 70 percent, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity."[6]

Participants: Justice Sunday

Sources: PRNewswire, AP

"'Justice Sunday' Preachers"

Writing in the April 26, 2005, The Nation, Max Blumenthal brought to light the following information: [7]

  • Event promoter Tony Perkins:
"Four years ago, Perkins addressed the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), America's premier white supremacist organization, the successor to the White Citizens Councils, which battled integration in the South. In 1996 Perkins paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,000 for his mailing list. At the time, Perkins was the campaign manager for a right-wing Republican candidate for the US Senate in Louisiana. The Federal Election Commission fined the campaign Perkins ran $3,000 for attempting to hide the money paid to Duke."
"Perkins introduced [Bill] Frist as 'a friend of the family.'"
  • Family Research Council founder James Dobson:
"... invoked the Christian right's persecution complex. On an evening when Jews were celebrating the second night of Passover, Dobson claimed, 'The biggest Holocaust in world history came out of the Supreme Court' with the Roe v. Wade decision. On his syndicated radio show nearly two weeks earlier, on April 11, Dobson compared the 'black robed men' on the Supreme Court to 'the men in white robes, the Ku Klux Klan.'"
  • Bishop Harry Jackson:
The "only black speaker. Jackson had recently unveiled his Black Contract With America, a document that highlights wedge issues like gay marriage that would presumably pry black churchgoers away from the Democratic Party." Although reaction has been disappointing, Jackson's "association with the right wing has done wonders for his personal profile. Just after Bush's second inauguration, he was among a contingent of black clergy members invited to the White House for a private meeting."
  • William Donohue, whom he called the "token Catholic" at "Justice Sunday," Blumenthal said
"...become a key asset for the Christian right's evangelical faction. ... In the battle to confirm far-right judicial nominees like William Pryor, who happens to be Catholic, Donohue ... has argued that Democratic senators opposing Pryor and others are motivated by anti-Catholicism."
Not only "... had no qualms about sharing the stage with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Dr. Albert Mohler" but also "was silent about Mohler."
  • Dr. Albert Mohler, participating in the "Justice Sunday" event hosted at his home church, who said
"'As an evangelical, I believe that the Roman Catholic Church is a false church ... It teaches a false gospel. And the Pope himself holds a false and unbiblical office,' ... Mohler remarked during a 2000 TV interview."

Justice Sunday II: "God Save the United States and this Honorable Court!"

Justice Sunday II was held August 14, 2005, at Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. In a follow-up to the first "Justice Sunday" held April 24, 2005, the Family Research Council conducted a "simulcast television program ... live in churches across the nation in addition to being carried on hundreds of radio stations, via satellite and webcast" on its website (JusticeSunday.com).

Event Purpose

"How activist judges subvert the family, undermine religious freedom and threaten our nation's future."

Participants: Justice Sunday II

According to the Justice Sunday website (accessed August 12, 2005), the following is a partial listing for "the event's speakers line-up":

Musical Performances


  • Preorder Justice Sunday DVD.

Reaction to Justice Sunday II

Justice Sunday III: "Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land"

Justice Sunday III was held January 8, 2006, at the Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia. It was also broadcast live in churches across the nation via the Sky Angel satellite network, in addition to being carried on hundreds of radio and Christian TV stations, and via live webcast.

Event Purpose

"To educate people of faith on how the judiciary impacts their lives and to show how activist judges seek to end all mention of God in the public square." [14]

Featured Speakers

SourceWatch Resources

External links


  1. http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=PV05H01 "Justice Sunday II: A Special Note From Executive Vice President of FRC, Chuck Donovan"], Family Research Council.
  2. "Frist speaks to Christian anti-filibuster rally", CNN.com, April 25, 2005.
  3. "A gross insult to federal judges", The Anniston Star, April 22, 2005.
  4. "Republicans shift judge fight from religion to Constitution", Associated Press, April 25, 2005.
  5. "Republicans shift judge fight from religion to Constitution", Associated Press, April 25, 2005.
  6. "Republicans shift judge fight from religion to Constitution", Associated Press, April 25, 2005.
  7. Max Blumenthal, "Justice Sunday Preachers", The Nation, April 26, 2005.


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