American Family Association Seeks to Expand Religious Test for SCOTUS to Lower Court Nominees

The American Family Association’s Center for Judicial Renewal has been urging Republican presidential candidates and senators to adopt its explicit religious test for future Supreme Court justices;  the group is attempting to blackball conservative judges who fail to meet its “biblical worldview” standard.

In a fundraising email sent Tuesday, AFA Action CEO Walker Wildmon revealed that the group is also seeking to apply its religious worldview test to judges for the lower courts, which he calls “a crucial, much-needed expansion of CJR’s scope.”

Walker makes the group’s Christian nationalist agenda for the courts quite clear, writing that “if America is ever going to return to its Christ-centered, constitutional roots, it’s up to us.” In return for a “generous gift,” the group will send donors a copy of the widely debunked Christian nationalist pseudo-historian David Barton’s “God in the Constitution.”

Wildmon’s email also brags about the group’s involvement in Project 2025, the Heritage Foundation-led project to engineer a far-right takeover of the executive branch if Donald Trump or another Republican is elected president this fall.

In spite of promoting an explicit religious test for federal judges—a clear betrayal of the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution—and supporting Project 2025’s authoritarian plan to undermine checks and balances, Wildmon’s email portrays AFA as a defender of the Constitution against “radical progressives” who he claims are “bent on destroying the rule of law altogether.”

Wildmon’s email complains about “brazen attacks enacted by rogue activist judges,” but of course he’s not talking about AFA-approved judges like Trump’s Fifth Circuit Judge James Ho, who Right Wing Watch has noted “has become notorious as a virtual parody of a right-wing activist, whose extreme opinions read like far-right ideological diatribes.”

In March, Wildmon interviewed the Center for Judicial Renewal’s Phillip Jauregui about the group’s Supreme Court project. The two complained about the “horrible” lack of representation by conservative evangelicals on the Supreme Court. Jauregui said that the Trump campaign’s reported plan to announce a list of about 20 potential Supreme Court nominees was “probably a bad idea” because there aren’t enough candidates that meet the AFA’s worldview standard. Jauregui reviewed the “green list” of six potential justices who he said meet their biblical worldview standard and demonstrate sufficient “courage” to use the court to impose that standard. That list includes three judges, along with Alliance Defending Freedom President Kristen Waggoner, the dean of Liberty University’s law school, and the former law school dean at Pat Robertson’s Regent University.

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