Sep 16, 2002

The Senate should reject the nomination of University of Utah law professor Michael McConnell to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

In a report released today, Americans United surveys McConnell's writings and finds unremitting hostility toward the separation of church and state. McConnell's disdain for this core constitutional principle, Americans United says, makes him unfit for the federal bench.

At a Washington press conference today, Americans United joined several other civil liberties and civil rights groups in opposing McConnell.

"McConnell may be the Religious Right's dream judicial nominee, but he's a nightmare for all Americans who treasure the Constitution," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "McConnell's record is one of relentless hostility for individual rights and a trivialization of long-fought claims of justice."

The report notes that McConnell advocates taxpayer funding of religious schools and has criticized the Supreme Court for rulings removing state-sponsored religion from public schools. McConnell has gone so far as to write his own constitutional amendment to water down church-state separation, which he offered to the House of Representatives in 1995.

The report also highlights McConnell's disdain for court precedent and his longstanding ties to the Religious Right.

"Michael McConnell combines many of the worst attributes in judicial nominees," Lynn said. "He has utter disdain for the First Amendment's wall of separation between church and state, he rejects nearly all of the Supreme Court's decisions on this area of law from the last half-century and, if given the opportunity, would use his position on the federal bench to advance his ideological agenda."

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.