Conservatives across America were urged to pressure senators to end the use of filibusters against President Bush’s judicial nominees in an appeal made on Christian radio and television networks.
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.
“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,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said in a prerecorded address.
The program, called “Justice Sunday, Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith,” was aired as the Senate nears a historic confrontation over Bush’s judicial nominees.
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.
The telecast from Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, had a potential audience of 61 million homes in 44 states, its sponsor, the Washington-based Family Research Council said.
The program opened with an announcer imploring “people of faith across America” to take a stand because some senators were blocking confirmation of appellate court nominees based on their faith and values.
“As American citizens we should not have to choose between believing and living what is in this book and by serving the public,” said president Tony Perkins, holding a Bible in one hand and a gavel in the other.
Perkins asked viewers to take notes because he would give them “action steps.” He read the telephone number for the U.S. Senate switchboard and throughout the broadcast the office phone numbers of some senators crawled across the screen.
The group People for the American Way said the program’s speakers were manipulating religion and misrepresenting the truth for political gain.
“It is false and inflammatory to suggest, as speakers did tonight, that support of the senate’s checks and balances are trying to keep people of faith off the courts, president Ralph Neas said in a statement.
During the broadcast, Dr. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, portrayed minority Democrats and “about six or eight very squishy Republicans” as obstructionists to judicial appointments.
Mohler said those senators need to hear from conservatives who are concerned about the courts and blocked judicial appointments.
“Let them know that you don’t want them to delay and you don’t want them to postpone,” Mohler said. “Tell them that you care and that you will remember how they vote.”