When Schiavo died, DeLay said, “the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior.”
And the House Majority Leader described the judicial system as “an arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable judiciary that thumbed their noses at Congress and the president.”
Frist sought to distance himself from DeLay’s remarks earlier this week when he told reporters, “I believe we have a fair and independent judiciary today and I respect that.”
But the Senate Majority Leader in a short interview Wednesday would not address Barton’s position on impeaching judges.
“I hope it doesn’t upset people because he is giving a tour of the Capitol,” Frist said. “I am not sure what we are going to be talking about, but we look forward to the tour.”
Several leading Democrats, though, questioned why the Majority Leader would invite such a polarizing figure to conduct the tour.
“I would have to ask Sen. Frist why he feels this man has any professional expertise explaining what the U.S. Capitol is all about,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “Religion has been an important part of our nation’s history, but we have also been extremely careful to be respectful of other people’s beliefs.”
In addition to his historical religious teachings, Barton was hired by the Republican National Committee in 2004 to help with outreach efforts to religious conservatives. Barton was also part of an organized effort by religious leaders last year to exert pressure on Congress to approve a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.
As for Barton’s view on impeaching judges, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) charged that Barton “doesn’t understand the Constitution.”
“Woe be onto us that Mr. Barton’s concept of casual impeachment of judges becomes the rule,” Lautenberg said.
This wouldn’t be the first time Barton has conducted a tour of the Capitol. He regularly takes ministers on an “evening Spiritual Heritage Tour of the U.S. Capitol” during visits to the nation’s capital to meet with “Christian Senators and Representatives,” according to his Web site.
“Attendees are inspired by the many Godly heroes honored throughout the building as David brings new life and perspective to the rich, spiritual history represented throughout this great building,” reads a summary of the tour posted on the his Web site.
Members act as the official hosts for these tours, and Barton’s Web site states that another briefing is scheduled for next week.
While Frist lauded Barton’s historical expertise, his detractors suggest his conclusions are not based in fact.
“He is to American history what the fundamentalist creationists are to science,” said Rob Boston, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “Barton doesn’t like the fact that the United States was founded as a secular Republic. So he has created a cut-and-paste revisionist history designed to show we were actually founded to be a Christian nation.”