PHILADELPHIA - On the eve of Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, conservatives gathered Sunday for a rally in his support in the state where he is an appellate judge.
Organizers said the "Justice Sunday III" event was an opportunity to defend religious liberty and educate conservatives about the need to reform the federal courts.
Among those expected to attend were Sen. Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvanian who is the No. 3 Senate Republican, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and the Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
AIDS activists, liberal groups and other religious leaders organized a protest, maintaining that the sponsors of Justice Sunday back a dangerous mixing of church and state and support an agenda that threatens civil rights.
Conservatives have generally supported Alito but liberals fear he is too conservative and could undermine abortion rights, a pivotal issue before the Supreme Court.
Philadelphia is the hometown of Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, and it is where Alito sits on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Justice Sunday III" was slated for Greater Exodus Baptist Church. Its pastor, the Rev. Herbert Lusk, drew the ire of separation-of-church-and-state activists when he endorsed President Bush from the pulpit during the 2000 Republican National Convention here. The church's charitable arm was awarded nearly $1 million in federal money in 2002 to help low-income Philadelphians with mortgages and Bush spoke at the church in 2004.
Thousands attended the first two Justice Sunday events last year in Louisville, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn., which took place before a threatened filibuster showdown in the Senate and the confirmation hearings for now-Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
How does the article support the headline? The only split I see is one between conservatives and liberals. (Remember, not all religious groups are conservative!) Looks like our AP headline writer is attempting to put a spin on the Alito nomination to create more controversy. The article itself is not the problem, but as I have noted in the past, headlines are an easy place to insert blatent bias.