An Atheist public policy group today urged President Obama to choose his nominee for the Supreme Court based on a strong commitment to the First Amendment and the "strict separation of church and state."
Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists, said: "Our group will be watching the nomination and subsequent Senate review of a replacement for the irreplaceable Justice John Paul Stevens with great interest. The religious liberty not only of Atheists but of all Americans will be imperiled unless the person holding the seat now held by Stevens is filled by a future US Supreme Court Justice of the greatest intelligence and integrity."
Buckner added that President Obama should beware of religious right groups, who appear to be mobilizing to stop any nominees who would reject efforts to smuggle organized prayer into public school classrooms or to teach "creationism" as an "alternative" to evolution.
Eddie Tabash, a constitutional attorney and policy advisor to state-church separation groups, said: "The staunchest, most consistent advocate of government neutrality in matters of religion, that is to say, the equality of non believers before the law, Justice John Paul Stevens, is retiring from the Supreme Court. There is no question that President Obama will want to replace him with a justice of equal commitment to the separation of church and state."
Tabash added: " The big question is, can he? Will the Republicans filibuster any known opponent of the religious right wing viewpoint? Numerically, 41 Republicans could pull off a successful filibuster. We will have to wait and see. At this time, Atheists and religious dissenters everywhere need to thank Justice Stevens for 34 years of being our advocate, our defender, and our protector on a Court with ever shifting majorities. "
Buckner noted that American Atheists is urging Freethinkers, Humanists, and other secularists to contact the White House with their opinions on any Supreme Court nominees.
"The separation of government and religion remains an important issue in the 'culture wars.' All Americans must have freedom of religion--and it is not really freedom at all unless it guarantees freedom from religion for those who want none."