Jay Sekulow is best known as the nation’s top legal advocate for all causes Christian. But on this sunny afternoon, broadcasting from a basement radio studio a block from the U.S. Supreme Court, the booming voice of religious liberty is making a case for moderation. On the air is Tom from Texas, calling for a nationwide campaign to impeach judges who make “outlandish rulings.” Sekulow cuts him short. “You can’t impeach a judge just because you disagree with their decisions,” Sekulow admonishes. “I don’t think that’s wise.”
His socially conservative listeners, riled over a string of court rulings affirming gay marriage and defending the right to die, might beg to disagree. But part of Sekulow’s job these days is to keep a lid on the radicals without losing their support. As one of three top strategists tapped by the White House to help steer President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees through a closely divided Senate, Sekulow will have to rely on political pragmatism as much as he does on the passion and power of his 1.5 million socially conservative listeners.
With a Supreme Court vacancy all but certain this year, true-blue liberals, rabid-red conservatives, and activists of every stripe are amassing millions of dollars and mobilizing thousands of true believers for an air and ground war expected to eclipse every other legislative issue on the congressional agenda — including Social Security and tax reform. Already the ideological struggle over the high court and the federal appellate bench has squelched scholarly discourse on jurisprudence and replaced it with a partisan free-for-all that feels like a bruising election-year campaign, mudslinging and all.