John Leo

Martin Marty, a liberal Protestant theologian of great stature and fairness, went uncharacteristically ballistic on this point. He said the backers of Justice Sunday "have assaulted and are mobilizing slanderers against millions upon tens of millions of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews (and fellow Evangelicals?) who politically support efforts not to 'go nuclear' and hence kill the filibuster potential in the Senate."

Frist's agreement to appear on the telecast is an example of how polarization now feeds on itself. I think Frist would have preferred to show some detachment, but the pull of the base is extraordinarily strong in both parties and especially unforgiving with potential presidential candidates who lack the proper militancy.

The advance rhetoric has been extreme. Perkins's message on the Family Research Council website says, "For years activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the ACLU, have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms." Must we talk this way? I agree with the sentiment about the American Civil Liberties Union. It has degenerated into a pressure group of the left that specializes in stripping the public square of every vestige of religion, from the removal of a tiny mission cross in the seal of the County of Los Angeles to attacks on Christmas trees near city halls. But I don't understand what it means to work "under the veil of the judiciary" or how the excesses of the ACLU are involved in the issue at hand-the Democrats' determination not to let the Senate vote on some judges.

Given enough publicity, Justice Sunday seems guaranteed to frighten away secular and non-Christian religious voters who think the courts have gone too far or that simple fairness requires a Senate vote on the judges in question. The argument should be based on these grounds not on antifaith prejudice. Framing political issues in purely religious terms is always a big mistake.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

Be the first to read John Leo's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.