Four Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate fell over themselves to show deference to religious right voters in a forum sponsored Friday by The Family Leader.
Right Wing Watch reported three of the candidates vowed they would block federal judge nominees who did not adhere to “natural law,” which the candidates described as handed down by God.
Radio host and retired Air Force colonel Sam Clovis (pictured above) said he would use natural law as a “litmus test” for judges, while Sarah Palin-backed state Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Red Oak) said judges and senators should understand U.S. laws “come from God” and make their decisions “within that criteria.”
But Matt Whitaker, a former federal prosecutor, declared his opponents had not gone “far enough” and said he would demand federal judicial nominees be “people of faith” who “have a biblical view of justice.”
“As long as they have that worldview, then they’ll be a good judge,” Whitaker said. “If they have a secular worldview, where this is all we have here on earth, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge.”
Iowa Democrats had urged Republicans to denounce the event’s moderator, conservative pundit Erick Erickson, for his comments on women and LGBT people, and about 10 Democrats stood outside the forum in protest.
"It's shameful that instead of standing up to intolerance tonight, Republicans all chose to stand on stage with it," said Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan. "Erick Erickson represents the fringe of the Republican Party that thrives on fear, ignorance and obstructionism, but that's the exact type of senator these Republicans want to be."
Republican candidate Scott Schaben did not participate in the forum.
Bob Vander Plaats, head of the conservative Family Leader group, opened the forum by declaring that God had three institutions – “the church, the family, and government.”
He warned that legal abortion and marriage equality would remove God’s blessing from the U.S.
“As we have a culture that runs further and further from God’s principles, His precepts, from God’s heart, it’s only natural consequences that we’re going to suffer,” Vander Plaats said. “You cannot run away from the heart of God and expect God to bless the country.”
Vander Plaats helped orchestrate the 2010 ouster of Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, and Jacobs cited that ruling as an example of unacceptable judicial activism.
"I will look very, very carefully at the track record of anybody who's nominated for a judicial position and make sure in that record I'm comfortable that they uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and they do not have a record of legislating from the bench," Jacobs said.
Watch Vander Plaat's opening remarks in this video posted online by RWW Blog: