Justice Sunday is one more way the GOP forces its beliefs on others

By Hollie Russon Gilman

“The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias, and it is now used against people of faith.”

This quote appears on the fliers for “Justice Sunday” on April 24. Organized by the Family Research Council, this event is the latest attack by the right-wing conservatives to overturn the congressional power to filibuster. This event is essentially a telecast, started by a church in Kentucky. Under the heading “the filibuster against people of faith” reads the ominous quote from above. The idea behind this event is to use a place of worship to overturn the framework of our legislative process. The goal of this event is to reach more than a million people around the country in churches and through the internet, Christian television, and radio networks.

This “holiday” centers around the idea Republicans have flirted with ever since the new alignments of the Senate which prevents the Republicans from having the 60 person majority they need to close debate. Thus, the Democrats have the one tool of the minority: the filibuster. To date, Democrats have blocked confirmation of 10 of President Bush’s judicial nominees. This number is surprisingly low given the large number of appointees Bush has made.

Before this event, the Senate majority leader Bill Frist was distancing himself from the right’s attack on the judiciary. However, this event signals the union of Tom Delay, House majority leader, with Frist. Delay has been on the record criticizing the courts. He has said the courts “run amok” and are too liberal and antithetical to Christianity. Bill Frist is explicitly supporting this event and therefore following in the footsteps of Delay.

The filibuster is the most formidable weapon of the minority. It ameliorates Tocqueville’s fear of the ignorant majority. The filibuster is the thermometer of our time. It exemplifies divisive and clashing view points. It is perhaps the best tool of our democracy. Even though it has notoriously been used by civil rights opponents, throughout its history the filibuster has been an essential tool for fostering debate. While sometimes the prospect of a filibuster can be scary, the prospect of a country without the filibuster is much scarier.

“Justice Sunday” is dangerous to all Americans. The Republicans are essentially claiming a monopoly on faith. In addition, they are trying to attack the seemingly least partisan branch of government: the judiciary. The courts have become increasingly more tolerant, most recently rescinding the death penalty for minors. For the Republicans to gain control of the judiciary would mark the last step in a complete transformation of our nation.

Every person should shudder at the idea of a day of worship and rest being exploited for political gain. And worse still, the Republicans are trying to strike at the very heart of our functioning government and our revered Constitution. The conservatives bombastically believe that they can overturn the framers’ intentions for our government and our nation.