April 2004 Church & State | AU Bulletin

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) is preparing to unveil a package of legislative initiatives designed to excite the Republican Party's base, including a proposal to undermine the separation of church and state.

DeLay is reportedly annoyed because President George W. Bush has not sufficiently highlighted the social issues championed by the Religious Right. DeLay's wish list of bills includes a proposal to block the federal courts from hearing challenges to government displays of religious symbols like the Ten Commandments and Nativity scenes.

"I have not discussed this with President Bush or anyone else in the White House, and have no desire to," DeLay told The Washington Times. "But if you don't set these conservative goals, you don't get conservative governance."

U.S. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) backed DeLay's proposal, telling Focus on the Family's "Family News in Focus" that a court-stripping measure that limits the reach of the federal courts will "bring an end to the judicial activism that has resulted almost in legislating from the bench."

Pence has backed legislation written in part by ousted Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore called the "Constitution Restoration Act." Pence said Moore's proposal would curb the power of the courts "particularly when it comes to the acknowledgment of God in the public square."

It was unclear if Moore's version of court-stripping would be included in DeLay's package. DeLay told The Times in early March that he planned to present his bills to a closed-door meeting of the House Republican Conference, but he had not publicly released details as Church & State went to press.