Nov 14, 2002

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today criticized the Senate Judiciary Committee for approving University Of Utah law professor Michael W. McConnell's nomination to a federal appeals court despite McConnell's radical views on church-state separation.The committee approved McConnell's nomination to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on a voice vote this morning. Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn decried the vote, saying McConnell is unfit for the court."Michael McConnell lacks the proper judicial temperament and respect for precedent that should be the hallmark of a thoughtful judge," Lynn said. "He is a judicial activist who is eager to overturn decades of well-established church-state law."Earlier this year, Americans United issued a report examining McConnell's views. The report noted 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.Lynn said McConnell's nomination is a sign of a larger trend to stack the federal courts with nominees hostile to basic civil liberties. He urged Americans to pay more attention to court nominees."All Americans should be concerned about the federal judiciary," Lynn said. "The courts are supposed to be our last line of defense for securing rights. If they are stacked with ideologues like McConnell, our freedom stands in jeopardy."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.