Judicial Hopefuls Receive Queries; Conservative Group Is Mailing Eight Candidates Questions about Rulings

Article excerpt

Byline: WALTER C. JONES, The Times-Union

ATLANTA -- Ever heard of a lawyer answering a question in one sentence? That's the hope of the Christian Coalition of Georgia, which is sending questionnaires to candidates for two statewide court races.

The 60,000-member organization announced Thursday it would quiz eight lawyers running office this year by asking their opinions on five recent, controversial decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court. Results will be given to 750,000 voters shortly before the July 20 election.

The cases in the survey involve abortion, homosexuality, school prayer, school vouchers, and scholarships for seminary students. For each case, the organization printed a sentence or two from the majority and the dissenting opinions. The candidates can only check a box to show which opinion they agree with, but there's no room for lengthy explanations.

"We think it's a marvelous tool," said attorney Jim Kelly, author of the questionnaire he hopes will become a model for other states.

At least one candidate said she's willing to consider filling it out, though she hadn't read it on Thursday when she was in Columbus campaigning.

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Leah Sears, who's up for re-election, she said she's completed surveys in the past.

"On principle, I'm not adverse to a questionnaire," said the Savannah native.

Christian Coalition State Chairwoman Sadie Fields says Sears isn't the reason for the questionnaire, even though other conservatives have vowed to unseat her. Instead, Fields said, it's motivated by a recent U. …


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