Religious groups warn senators against religious litmus test for future court nominees

Two faith-based advocacy groups are calling on the Senate to use its upcoming floor vote on Judge John Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court to set “the right tone” for the next judicial nominee.

In a letter to Senators Frist, Reid, Specter and Leahy, Fidelis president Joseph Cella and Center for Jewish Values president Jeff Ballabon urged senators to be on guard for statements or questions about Roberts' personal beliefs or values.

Delivered Friday, the letter warned that further questions or statements about Roberts' faith during deliberations on the Senate floor could give rise to new attacks on President George W. Bush's choice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor.

“We have been quite pleased with the respectful decorum of the confirmation process thus far," said Cella in a press release. “However, it is imperative that the leadership in the Senate preserve the integrity of this process as we prepare for another nominee.”

The letters asked senators to keep in mind Article XVI, Clause III of the Constitution that prohibits a religious test for public office.

“Questions about a nominee's religious beliefs, values, or private judgments give rise to anti-religious bigotry, and border on an unconstitutional litmus test," said Cella.

"It should be made clear that neither Judge Roberts nor the next nominee is running for political office and neither should be subjected to questions that have more to do with the particular policy preferences of individual Senators."

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