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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 9:21 am 
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Ministers Say They Blessed Seats Ahead of Alito Hearing

By JUNE KRONHOLZ
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
January 5, 2006 7:20 p.m.

WASHINGTON -- Insisting that God "certainly needs to be involved" in the Supreme Court confirmation process, three Christian ministers today blessed the doors of the hearing room where Senate Judiciary Committee members will begin considering the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito on Monday.

Capitol Hill police barred them from entering the room to continue what they called a consecration service. But in a bit of one-upsmanship, the three announced that they had let themselves in a day earlier, touching holy oil to the seats where Judge Alito, the senators, witnesses, Senate staffers and the press will sit, and praying for each of the 13 committee members by name.

"We did adequately apply oil to all the seats," said the Rev. Rob Schenck, who identified himself as an evangelical Christian and as president of the National Clergy Council in Washington.

Rev. Schenck called the consecration service the kick-off in a series of prayer meetings that will continue throughout the confirmation hearing.

Capitol Hill police said they weren't aware that the three had entered the hearing room earlier, but added that hearing rooms typically aren't locked because "they're not of interest to anyone." Lt. Dominick Costa said the Judiciary Committee room will be swept for bombs and perhaps for electronic bugging equipment before the hearing begins.

The three ministers insisted they weren't taking sides in the Alito debate. "This is not a pro-Alito prayer," insisted the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition. With abortion, public prayer, gay marriage and right-to-life issues among those topping public debate, however, "God…is interested in what goes on" in the nomination hearing, Rev. Schenck said.

The two men, along with Grace Nwachukwu, general manager of a group called Faith and Action, read three Psalms outside the committee room, knelt to say the Lord's Prayer and marked a cross in oil on the committee door before leaving.

Rev. Schenck said he and Rev. Mahoney had blessed the same room before hearings for Chief Justice John Roberts last year. That hearing "went very well," Rev. Schenck said.

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