Oct 27, 2005

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today called on President George W. Bush to select a Supreme Court nominee who is committed to individual rights, despite Religious Right pressure to do otherwise.

Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “Harriet Miers’ withdrawal shows the disproportionate power of the Religious Right on the Bush administration. While there were certainly many reservations across the political spectrum about Miers’ qualifications for the high court, she seems to have been forced out because she was insufficiently far right on abortion, gay rights and church-state separation. This is appalling.

“I hope President Bush now selects someone who is both abundantly qualified and possesses a clear commitment to individual freedom,” Lynn said.

Miers withdrew as high court nominee today after a withering campaign against her by Religious Right leaders and other conservatives in Bush’s political base. The latest round of recriminations came after a news media report that Miers, in a 1993 speech, endorsed “self-determination” on issues such as abortion and school prayer.

She said, "The ongoing debate continues surrounding the attempt to once again criminalize abortions or to once and for all guarantee the freedom of the individual women's [sic] right to decide for herself whether she will have an abortion"

According to The Washington Post, she added that those seeking to resolve such disputes would do well to remember that "we gave up" a long time ago on "legislating religion or morality" and that "when science cannot determine the facts and decisions vary based upon religious belief, then government should not act."

Said Americans United’s Lynn, “We know that Religious Right leaders are bitterly opposed to ensuring Americans’ right to self-determination on questions of religion and lifestyle. They want to make all the important decisions and impose those choices on the rest of us. It’s no wonder they reacted to Meirs’ remarks with such hostility.”

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.