Controversial attorney J. Robert Brame III has asked the White House to withdraw his name from consideration for a slot on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), sources familiar with the situation have reported.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which had publicized Brame's ties to two extremist organizations that promote "biblical law," welcomed the development.
"Mr. Brame's ties to groups that oppose democracy and advocate theocracy make him unsuitable for public office," said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "He should never have been considered for this post."
Brame told The Washington Blade that he asked President George W. Bush this week to remove his name from a list of possible NLRB nominees. He said he has decided to pursue other endeavors. However, observers believe that the national outcry sparked by Brame's record is the real reason for his withdrawal.
Americans United and a broad array of other civil liberties and progressive groups rallied citizens across the country to contact the White House and oppose the selection of Brame, whose nomination was considered almost certain before the controversy erupted.
Brame has served as a top official of American Vision, an Atlanta-based group that seeks to replace America's secular democracy with a "Christian" regime based on "biblical law," including enforcement of the harsh legal code of the Old Testament. He has also served as an advisor to the Plymouth Rock Foundation, a Plymouth, Mass., group with similar views.
Brame recently resigned from the American Vision board after the group's controversial agenda became public. Though Brame served on the board since at least 1994, he told The Wall Street Journal that he was unaware of American Vision's extreme views.
American Vision materials have described democracy as "the first step toward fascism," argue that women must be subordinate to men and insist that the Bible requires the death penalty for gays.
Both American Vision and the Plymouth Rock Foundation are affiliated with the so-called "Christian Reconstructionist" movement, whose adherents seek to replace American democracy with a theocracy based on their interpretation of the Old Testament's legal code.
Lynn cautioned that the situation must still be monitored. Although Brame has said he is no longer interested in the position, media reports have surfaced stating that Bush could still name Brame to the NLRB as a "recess appointment." Under the terms of a recess appointment, Brame could serve on the NLRB until the start of the next term of Congress in January of 2003, without undergoing Senate confirmation.
Lynn said such a move would be a grave mistake.
"President Bush should drop this nominee and find another candidate -- and this time it should be someone who respects America's religious diversity and understands the need to uphold individual freedom," Lynn said.
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.