BURLINGTON, VT — Senator John McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin makes it clear that when it comes to critical social and political issues — including U.S. Supreme Court appointments, federal science policy, public education, and birth control — a McCain/Palin White House will be little more than a branch office of the hard-core Religious Right.
“As the steady stream of surprising revelations make clear,” said Vermont author Frederick Lane, “the only two things that John McCain and his staff knew for certain about Governor Palin is that she is a woman and a darling of the Religious Right, a constituency that McCain is desperate to energize for the upcoming presidential election.”
Lane’s most recent book, “The Court and the Cross: The Religious Right’s Crusade to Reshape the Supreme Court” (Beacon 2008), is a detailed look at the efforts of the Religious Right over the last thirty years to use its growing political power to influence the nomination and selection of judges to the federal bench. The book concludes with a review of various church-state issues that have come before the United States Supreme Court, including: governmental display of the Ten Commandments (an issue before the Court this coming fall), school prayer, creationism in school science classes, and of course, a woman’s right to privacy.
“Although the details of Governor Palin’s positions are still largely unknown,” Lane said, “the little information that is available makes it clear that the Governor belongs to the right wing of the Religious Right. She is on record as opposing all abortions except when the life of the mother in danger, she refused to fund anything except abstinence-only sex education in Alaska, she favors the teaching of creationism, opposes stem cell research, and not only opposes any benefits for same-sex couples but also supports a constitutional amendment to permanently bar gay and lesbian couples from ever receiving them. Collectively, this is a campaign platform that could easily have been drafted by James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.”
Senator John McCain, Lane said, has essentially promised the Religious Right that he will continue the Bush administration’s practice of selecting federal judicial nominees that meet with their approval. In a recent speech at Wake Forest University, Senator McCain told supporters that he is a strong admirer of Justices Roberts, Alito, and Rehnquist. Lane believes that future Supreme Court appointments will be a critical issue in the 2008 election. Currently, six of the nine justices (including the entire liberal wing of the Court) are over the age of 65: John Paul Stevens (88), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (75), Antonin Scalia (72), Anthony Kennedy (72), Stephen Breyer (70), and David Souter (69 on Sept. 17).
In a May 18 posting entitled “The Petrification of John McCain,” Lane discussed Senator McCain’s speech on the judiciary at Wake Forest University and the implications for the separation of church and state if Senator McCain wins the November election. The full blog post can be read here>>>
“Although it is the President and not the Vice President who nominates justices,” Lane said, “Governor Palin’s close identification with the more extreme positions of the Religious Right — and Senator McCain’s patent pandering to evangelical Republicans — makes it clear that if they are elected, Religious Right groups like Focus on the Family, the American Center for Law and Justice, and the Family Research Council will continue to enjoy the enormous influence on the judicial nominating process that they’ve enjoyed during the eight years of the Bush administration.”
Frederick Lane is the author of The Court and the Cross: The Religious Right’s Crusade to Reshape the Supreme Court. Lane is an expert witness, lecturer, and author who has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, the BBC, and MSNBC. His next book will be People in Glass Houses: American Law, Technology, and the Right to Privacy (Beacon 2009). For additional information, please visit www.FrederickLane.com. Lane is a frequent contributor to Beacon Press’s blog, The Beacon Broadside.
Copyright 2008 Frederick Lane