Skip to comments.In Telecast, Frist Defends His Effort to Stop Filibusters - Liberal groups step up attacks
Posted on 04/25/2005 12:56:57 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
LOUISVILLE, Ky., April 24 - In a Sunday telecast organized by Christian conservative groups to denounce the Democrats as "against people of faith" for blocking judicial nominees, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee stepped up his threats to change Senate rules to circumvent those blockades while simultaneously calling for "more civility in political life."
In a short videotaped statement included in the telecast, which was called Justice Sunday and emanated from a packed Baptist mega-church here, Dr. Frist, the Senate majority leader, neither referred to religious faith nor addressed criticism that the event was inappropriately dragging religion into a partisan battle.
Instead, he focused on accusations by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, that Dr. Frist was a "radical Republican" for participating in the telecast, which aimed to build conservative Christian support for his threat to eliminate the filibuster of presidential nominees - a parliamentary tactic that allows at least 41 senators to reject a nominee by indefinitely forestalling a vote. Democrats, who hold 44 Senate seats, have vowed to virtually shut down Senate business if Dr. Frist follows through.
"I don't think it's radical to ask senators to vote," Dr. Frist said. "Now if Senator Reid continues to obstruct the process, we will consider what opponents call the 'nuclear option.' Only in the United States Senate could it be considered a devastating option to allow a vote. Most places call that democracy."
About 2,000 people packed into the Highview Baptist Church here for the telecast, and organizers said it was broadcast to several hundred churches by satellite, thousands of people over the Internet and 61 million households over Christian radio and television stations.
Liberal groups, meanwhile, stepped up their attacks on both Dr. Frist and the proposed rule change. About 1,200 liberal Christians gathered at a rally at a Presbyterian church here to protest what one speaker, the left-leaning evangelical Jim Wallis, called "a declaration of a religious war" and "an attempt to hijack religion."
Separately, MoveOn.org, a liberal advocacy group, said it was paying $700,000 for television commercials attacking the rule change, including some depicting a herd of Republican elephants trampling Congress. Its organizers said they would hold 120 rallies around the country on Wednesday, including one in Washington with a speech by former Vice President Al Gore. Mr. Gore's participation "elevates the fight beyond D.C.," said Ben Brandzel of MoveOn.org.
Marking a new stage in the confrontation, Dr. Frist singled out Judge Priscilla Owen, one of the blocked appeals court nominees, for praise in the telecast. The comments were a sign that Republicans have picked her to put forward for a vote to test the will of Democrats.
As the arguments on both sides heated up, senators scrambled to position themselves on middle ground. In the same telecast, Dr. Frist repudiated the comments of some in his party, including the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, about punishing judges whose rulings they consider out of line.
"When we think judicial decisions are outside mainstream American values, we will say so," he said. "But we must also be clear that the balance of power among all three branches requires respect - not retaliation. I won't go along with that."
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and an organizer of the telecast, declared at the outset, "We are not saying that people who disagree with us are not people of faith." Democrats, he argued, were forcing members of the judiciary to choose between public service and their conservative Christian views by denying them judgeships because of their stance on abortion or other social issues.
Other speakers in the telecast, however, took a different view from Dr. Frist. Dr. James Dobson, founder of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, whose political sister group was a sponsor of the event, defended Mr. DeLay and his attacks on the judiciary, calling the Supreme Court "unaccountable," "out of control," and a despotic oligarchy.
Dr. Dobson accused the justices of "a campaign to limit religious liberty" through 40 years of decisions limiting publicly supported expressions of religion. The founding fathers, he said, intended for the president and Congress to "check the judiciary and it hasn't done it," he said.
"You have a court that is out of control," Dr. Dobson said.
One Republican senator, however, distanced himself from the telecast as well as the attacks on the judiciary. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who supports changing the confirmation process, said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday" that the groups behind the telecast should "not to go down the road of saying that the Democratic senators are not people of faith or questioning their religious - that they're religious bigots."
"I don't think that helps the country," he said, "and I don't think that's fair."
Senate aides say they expect any confrontation to be postponed past the May recess next week. Dr. Frist has said he intends to offer a compromise, although it would still entail approving the blocked judges.
Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said Sunday that he was urging colleagues to look beyond party loyalty to resolve the impasse. "I think it is really necessary for Democrats not to follow a straight party line on voting for filibusters and Republicans not to follow a straight party line on voting for the so-called constitutional nuclear option," he said on CNN. "I think, if we voted our consciences, we wouldn't have filibusters, and we wouldn't have a nuclear option."
On the other side of the aisle, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, suggested that the parties might break their deadlock if Democrats agreed to confirm some of the blocked judges and Republicans agreed to drop the rest. "We'll let a number of them go through, the two most extreme not go through and put off this vote and compromise," Mr. Biden said in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC. "The filibuster has always been available to stop extremes."
Still, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican whip responsible for counting the votes of party members, said that enough Republicans would back the rule change to make it happen, which would require at least 50 of the 55 Republican senators. "That step will be taken sometime in the near future at the determination of the majority leader," he said in an interview on CBS. "We have the votes we need."
Albert Salvato contributed reporting for this article.
We have seen the corruption of our Laws by the activist judges!! What makes the Dems really believe that their lies will be allowed to continue!! Though they may try, their push to socialism will fail again, they have been discovered!! No one believes them -- They are LIARS!!
Jim Wallis is editor and founder of the liberal evangelical magazine Sojourners, the author of The Soul of Politics, and the head of "Call to Renewal," a faith-based anti-poverty organization for social change. He is a speaker, author, activist, and international commentator on ethics and public life.
Wallis speaks at more than 200 events a year and his columns appear in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and other major newspapers.
In the last several years, Wallis has led more than 250 town meetings, bringing together pastors, civic and business leaders, and elected officials in the cause of social justice and moral politics.
"A 60's mentality."
Actually, a Garden of Eden anti-God Serpent mentality, in an 1890s Karl Marx box with a 1960s wrapper....
Yeahright. THERE'S an oxymoron for you....
Evangelical as in propagandizing, perhaps. Not as in Biblical....
The left are like spoiled children.
It's not fair when we do it.
This guy Frist scares me sometimes.
Judical activism does not call for "retaliation" - - it calls for impeachment.
Does he "go along with that"?
***......In his speech, Mr. Frist addressed the concerns expressed by some in his party about suspending the filibuster.
"Now some Republicans -- even some conservatives -- don't think we should press the issue on requiring votes on judicial nominees," he said. "They're concerned that in the future Republicans won't be able to use this same device to obstruct Democratic nominees. Well, that may be true, but if what Democrats are doing is wrong today, it won't be right for Republicans to do the same thing tomorrow." ...........***
-Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee stepped up his threats...while simultaneously calling for "more civility in political life."-
THIS IS AN EFFORT???? This is pathetic.
My advice to Frist: Don't make a threat unless you are serious about enforcing it.
[Left-Wing] Church Groups Criticizing Frist, 4/22/05
A week after a headline noted Frist Accused of Exploiting Religion Issue, David Kirkpatrick and Sheryl Gay Stolberg make the front page Friday with another story forwarding attacks on the Senate Republican leader: Church Groups Criticizing Frist -- Religion Is Growing Factor in Court Nominee Fight.
At first glance, one might think some conservative church groups have qualms about Frists participation in a Sunday telecast that will allegedly depict Democrats as against people of faith. Yet the only church groups cited in the story are ones hailing from the left side of the political spectrum something Kirkpatrick and Stolberg fail to emphasize.
The story begins: As the Senate battle over judicial confirmations became increasingly entwined with religious themes, officials of several major Protestant denominations on Thursday accused the Senate Republican leader, Bill Frist, of violating the principles of his own Presbyterian church and urged him to drop out of a Sunday telecast that depicts Democrats as against people of faith.
They explain: Religious groups, including the National Council of Churches and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, plan to conduct a conference call with journalists on Friday to criticize Senator Frist's participation in the telecast. The program is sponsored by Christian conservative organizations that want to build support for Dr. Frist's filibuster proposal.
Note that while the program is being sponsored by Christian conservative organizations, the National Council of Churches is described simply as a benign, apparently nonideological religious group. But the NCC is a far-left organization, as demonstrated by its support of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro (no fan of religious freedom) and on various political issues like the environment.
Kirkpatrick and Stolberg at least identify another anti-Frist group as liberal: Now the liberal group People for the American Way is buying advertisements and distributing church program inserts that attack Senator Frist for invoking religious faith in what it says is a partisan context. The National Council of Churches is asking members to organize news conferences denouncing Dr. Frist. The criticism of the telecast underscores the delicate task facing Dr. Frist, who is laying the groundwork for a possible presidential campaign in 2008, as he courts the evangelical Protestant groups and other religious traditionalists that formed the bedrock of President Bush's winning coalition. With his patrician bearing and background in the relatively liberal Presbyterian Church, Dr. Frist, a Harvard-trained transplant surgeon, does not fit in as naturally with Christian conservatives as President Bush.
Theres also a rare use of the term ire to refer to liberals which refers obliquely to the National Council of Churches: Dr. Frist's overtures to Christian conservatives have drawn the ire of the more liberal hierarchies of other religious groups, including the officials of his own denomination. Dr. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches and a former Democratic congressman, said he had sought to include Mr. Kirkpatrick, of the Presbyterian Church, in the conference call both because Dr. Frist is Presbyterian and because of the church's emphasis on ecumenicalism.
-- TimesWatch.org, 4/22/05
Yeah. That's it all right.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.