Religious right plan Democrat-bashing 'Justice Sunday'

Bill Frist, the Republican leader of the US Senate and strongly tipped to run for the presidency in 2008, is to join a broadcast with right-wing Christian evangelicals in which Democrats will be accused of "standing against people of faith" by seeking to block George Bush's judicial nominations.

Mr Frist has agreed to join a number of prominent Christian conservatives for a service next weekend to be beamed live from a "mega-church" in Kentucky to churches around the US and on the internet. The event, organised by the Family Research Council (FRC), has been dubbed "Justice Sunday".

A flyer for the event says that the filibuster - a process whereby a party in the minority can "talk out" a bill and ensure there is no time to pass it - is "being used against people of faith". The flyer does not name the Democrats but the party has used the device to prevent Republicans confirming 10 of Mr Bush's judicial nominations.

Mr Frist says his Republican majority may change senate rules to require that only a simple majority is needed to confirm a nomination. At the moment 60 of the 100 senate votes are required. Democrats say that they would respond to such a "nuclear option" by bringing senate business to a standstill.

The senator's spokesman told The New York Times: "Senator Frist is doing everything he can to ensure judicial nominees are treated fairly and that every senator has the opportunity to give the President their advice and consent. He has spoken to groups all across the country to press that point."

The FRC is one of several Christian organisations trying to use the Republican domination of Washington to pass conservative and right-wing legislation. The battlegrounds for such groups are the issues of gay marriage and abortion.

The group's website declares: "The FRC champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilisation, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society ... Believing that God is the author of life, liberty, and the family, FRC promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society."

By Andrew Buncombe in Washington 16 April 2005 © Independent

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