AFA Wants Trump to Pick Evangelicals with Right-Wing ‘Biblical Worldview’ for Supreme Court

Phillip Jauregui (Image from Facebook live stream of IFA's July 6, 2018 prayer call)

Religious-right legal activist Phillip Jauregui appeared on the American Family Radio’s “At the Core” program with host Walker Wildmon yesterday to complain about the lack of conservative evangelical Supreme Court justices and to tout the Center’s “green list” of potential Republican nominees who meet the Center’s “biblical worldview” standard. Wildmon, the grandson of AFA Founder Don Wildmon, heads AFA Action, its political advocacy affiliate. Jauregui runs the Center for Judicial Renewal, one of AFA Action’s projects.

Wildmon notes that former President Donald Trump reportedly plans to release a list of 20 potential Supreme Court nominees—a campaign tactic that won him support from conservative evangelical and Catholic activists in 2016 and 2020. While Jauregui has praised the strategy of naming names, he told Wildmon this week that it’s “probably a bad idea” for Trump to release such a long list, because “we’ve spent thousands of hours on this and we can’t find 20” who meet the Center’s narrow “biblical worldview” standard.

As Right Wing Watch reported in September, the Center is compiling dossiers evaluating the faith, church attendance, and families of conservative judges whose names have been floated as potential Supreme Court nominees. “In my own experience of evaluating hundreds of judicial nominees and then observing their performance on the bench, I conclude that the greatest predicter of their faithful and constitutional performance on the bench is their ‘worldview’ or ‘Christian faith,’” writes Jauregui on AFA Action’s website.

Jauregui claims that this brazen Christian nationalist standard does not violate the Constitution’s ban on religious tests for public office because the Center and its allies are simply private individuals making recommendations. On “At the Core,” he cited other religious-right leaders who are “on board” with the project, including David Barton, Tony Perkins, Michele Bachmann, and Gary Bauer.

The Center has apparently not found even one more acceptable potential nominee since September, because the “green list” Jauregui and Wildmon talked about on “At the Core” is the same six-person list they revealed at last fall’s Pray Vote Stand conference. From September’s Right Wing Watch report:

One of the judges on AFA’s approved “green list” for the Supreme Court is Morse Tan, dean of Liberty University’s law school.  Jauregui displayed the first two pages of the CJR’s research summary on Tan, which begins with a “Faith & Worldview” section emphasizing Tan comments about Liberty’s commitment to train “Champions for Christ.” It includes a discussion of his commitment to scripture and “why it is important to teach a Christian worldview to future lawyers.”

Joining Tan on AFA’s terrifying SCOTUS wish list:

  • Kristen Waggoner, head of the aggressively anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ equality legal giant Alliance Defending Freedom, which has pushed courts to weaken church-state separation and is now participating in a right-wing project to take ideological domination of the civil service under the next Republican president.
  • Mark Martin, former dean of Pat Robertson’s Regent University law school, current dean of High Point University’s law school and a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice who reportedly advised Trump (wrongly) that V.P. Mike Pence had the constitutional authority to impede the Electoral College count.
  • Judge James Ho, a Trump nominee to the 5th Circuit who has become notorious as a virtual parody of a right-wing activist, whose extreme opinions read like far-right ideological diatribes; Ho recently wrote that banning access to abortion medication injures anti-abortion doctors because they get aesthetic pleasure out of looking at ultrasound photos.
  • Judge Kyle Duncan, a 2018 Trump nominee who People For the American Way concluded was “manifestly unfit,” was confirmed to the Fifth Circuit by Senate Republicans. Before joining the court, he represented Hobby Lobby in a case used by the right-wing SCOTUS majority to declare that corporations can be exempt from laws protecting employee health that run counter to owners’ religious beliefs. He joined other right-wing activist judges in support of a Texas law encouraging vigilantes to use lawsuits to enforce an abortion ban and demonstrated gratuitous disrespect toward a transgender litigant.
  • Judge Lawrence VanDyke, a 2019 Trump nominee, was deemed an unqualified nominee by the American Bar Association and an “unqualified ideological extremist” by People For the American Way. As a judge, VanDyke tried to, in the words of a fellow circuit judge, “gut the Equal Pay Act.”

Jauregui has long had strong views on these issues. As head of the Judicial Action Group in 2018, he was so convinced that God had anointed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court that when Trump instead chose Brett Kavanaugh as his second nominee, Jauregui denounced Kavanaugh as a “usurper” and warned that God would destroy him if he did not withdraw.

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