Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - The founder of one of the nation's most vocal and visible pro-life organizations said Tuesday that President Bush is obligated by his faith to choose pro-life judges for the federal bench.
"When the Republican Party takes possession of the U.S. Senate, the president, we believe, has a Christian duty ... to appoint only judges to the federal judiciary who will protect innocent human life," said Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry.
"We are initiating prayer for him all over the country that he will just do his Christian duty, that he won't falter, that he won't be afraid and that he will fear his Lord more than he fears the voice of man," he added.
Bush has a chance, Terry opined, to succeed where previous presidents have, in his view, failed.
"If Presidents Reagan and [George H.W.] Bush had done their homework properly and had fulfilled their campaign promises to the pro-life community, Roe versus Wade would already be overturned," he explained. "Because we wouldn't have [Justices Anthony] Kennedy, [David] Souter and Sandra Day O'Connor, who voted, ultimately to sustain Roe versus Wade."
The impact of pro-abortion appointments is felt by more than just the unborn children killed in abortion clinics and their mothers, Terry charged.
He pointed to Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court hearing of the combined cases of Operation Rescue and Joseph Scheidler, Andrew Scholberg, Timothy Murphy and the Pro-Life Action League versus the National Organizations for Women (NOW).
As CNSNews.com previously reported the cases involve a nationwide injunction obtained by NOW against peaceful, pro-life picketers on public sidewalks outside abortion clinics.
NOW sued pro-lifers under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, a federal law designed to enable individuals or groups "financially injured by a pattern of criminal activity" to seek redress through the state or federal courts.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a jury's guilty verdict. Scheidler and other pro-life defendants were ordered to pay $258,000 and barred from being anywhere near abortion clinics for any purpose. Operation Rescue settled with NOW in 1998.
"Pro-life people have been tried as mobsters, as racketeers. Why would a federal judge even allow this to happen?" Terry asked, answering his own question.
"Because, unfortunately due to appointments over the years to the federal judiciary, there are men and women as federal judges who do not honor and respect the God who made them and they don't protect innocent human life. They will do everything they can to protect the abortion industry," he said.
In a statement released Tuesday, Scheidler called the case a "fundamental question of the freedom of speech and assembly" guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
"By NOW's definition, most political protests that have effected social change over the past two centuries would qualify as extortion," said Scheidler, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights protests of the mid 1960s.
"Like the fight for racial equality, the fight against abortion is rooted in non-violent direct action," he said. "It is sometimes necessary to peacefully sit-in and risk arrest to make a public statement that some members of society are being excluded from legal protection, and that change is critical."
Sara Love, deputy legal director for the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) disagreed. In a prior interview, she said the pro-life organizations were guilty of extortion.
"When you clear away all the rhetoric, this case is about extortion," Love claimed. "Instead of trying to extort money, the defendants tried to extort the right to control these clinics."
Looking to the Future: Just One Vote
Looking past Wednesday's oral arguments, Terry predicted that the future of unborn children in America rests on Bush's judicial choices.
"We are one vote away from overturning Roe versus Wade, just one vote," he said of the 1973 Supreme Court decision decriminalizing abortion. "All it will take is one appointment to the Supreme Court of a man or a woman who will protect innocent human life in the womb."
But Terry admits that pro-life nominees, especially to any Supreme Court vacancy, will face vigorous opposition.
"[President Bush is] going to receive enormous pressure from people like Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and, perhaps, from people within his own party to compromise," he predicted.
"But when it comes to the appointment of federal judges, the president has a duty before God to do his homework and to only appoint judges who will protect life," Terry added.
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