NASHVILLE, Tenn. – America's most powerful judges are "unelected, unaccountable and arrogant," Focus on the Family founder James Dobson (search) told the thousands of people who packed a Nashville church for "Justice Sunday II," a rally televised for broadcast to churches across the country.
The goal of the rally was to educate evangelical Christians about the U.S. Supreme Court and get them talking to friends and elected officials about what they want from the justices, said organizer Tony Perkins (search), president of the Family Research Council.
Many of the speeches targeted the Supreme Court's power and what the writers of the Constitution intended the justices' role to be.
"All wisdom does not reside in nine persons in black robes," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (search) told the crowd. "The Constitution is clear on the point that the power to make laws is vested on Congress."
The president of The Catholic League, Bill Donahue, suggested a constitutional amendment to say that "unless a judicial vote is unanimous, you cannot overturn a law created by Congress."
The court is trying to "take the hearts and souls of our culture," he said.
Dobson evoked the framers of the Constitution, saying: "These activist, unelected judges believe they know better than the American people about the direction the country should go. The framers of our great nation did not intend for the courts to have absolute and final power over us."
Protesters were also vocal Sunday, both outside Two Rivers Baptist Church, where the rally was held, and across town, where a group of religious leaders held a separate event to counter what they saw as an extremist message.
"This is so Americans can see the 'Justice Sunday' sponsors and Tom DeLay don't have any exclusive hold on religion," said Glenn Smith, an organizer of "Community of Faith and Unity Gathering."
Rita Nakashima Brock, founder of Faith Voices for the Common Good, said "Justice Sunday II" was calling for a theocracy instead of democracy.
"Those people meeting with Tom DeLay, Chuck Colson and Jim Dobson think they own the Bible and that God speaks only to them," Brock said.
The first "Justice Sunday" event, held in April at a church in Louisville, Ky., had been aimed at stopping a potential filibuster of several nominees for the federal bench.
One of the speakers at that event, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, had threatened to try to change Senate rules to prevent certain filibusters if Democrats persisted, a move applauded by the rally organizers. Weeks later, 14 Senate Republicans and Democrats forged a compromise. Some conservatives accused Frist of allowing it to happen.
"There will be repercussions," Perkins said at the time.
Frist, a surgeon, wasn't invited to address "Justice Sunday II" because he angered the events' organizers by voicing his support for expanded human embryonic stem cell research.
At the rally Sunday, Mike Miller, 54, of Gallatin echoed many of the speakers comments on judicial power, saying he believes Supreme Court justices try to create laws with their rulings instead of interpreting the Constitution.
"Activist justices — we're trying to find out what we can do to stop that activity," he said. "Our laws are based on the Ten Commandments."