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Pat Robertson: Pray for justices to retire

The Rev. Pat Robertson
The Rev. Pat Robertson

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Editor's Note: CNN Access is a regular feature on CNN.com providing interviews with newsmakers from around the world.

(CNN) -- Televangelist Pat Robertson has asked his audience to pray to God for three justices to leave the U.S. Supreme Court. He would like to see them replaced with more conservative justices.

On the Web site of his Christian Broadcasting Network, he said, "One justice is 83 years old, another has cancer and another has a heart condition. Would it not be possible for God to put it in the minds of these three judges that the time has come to retire?"

His appeal followed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that decriminalized sodomy. On his Web site, he said this ruling opened the door to, among other things, homosexual marriages and bigamy.

Robertson talked with CNN anchor Paula Zahn.

ZAHN: First off, can you clarify for us or confirm who you were talking about? Were you talking about Justices John Paul Stephens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor?

ROBERTSON: That's correct. These are three people -- one's 83 years old, he's been there for an awful long time -- and I think our people are just so tired of this particular accord. I think they feel it's gotten out of control and we didn't know who else to appeal to, so we're appealing to the judge of all the Earth to see if there might not be some correction.

ZAHN: Are you asking your followers to pray for these justices to get sicker?

ROBERTSON: Of course not. When somebody's 83, it's time to retire and all we're asking is that they do. You know, the president, for example can only serve two terms. He serves eight years and he's out. The governor of Virginia serves four years and he's out. Our congressmen, many of them, have limited themselves to three terms. The Supreme Court, this particular court, has been in session together longer than any court since I think the 1820s. So it's time to see that changed.

ZAHN: Rev. Robertson, you're a student of history and you have to concede here that the Constitution guarantees a lifetime term, does it not?

ROBERTSON: Well, it says they serve for good behavior and everybody has assumed that is for life. There's no question the Constitution gives it to them, but it doesn't mean they have to stay there. Lewis Powell, the distinguished justice from the state of Virginia, retired. Thurgood Marshall retired. Other justices have retired. And I don't see why some of these people can't retire. I'd like to see some fresh blood come in there and primarily conservative judges.

ZAHN: But historically hasn't it been true that when these justices retire it's usually because of ill health?

ROBERTSON: Not necessarily. I think Lewis Powell was in good health, he just decided it was time to get on with it. I believe that, you know, in corporations, many people have mandatory retirements at 65 or 70. I know we don't have that on the court, but nevertheless there comes a time.

But there's something more profound in this. This particular court, in my opinion, has turned the Constitution on its ear. It started way back in the '60's and we have had assault after assault after assault on religious values, on other things, and this recent decision, in my opinion, is shocking. It was so broad based. ... And just think, Paula, we've slaughtered something in the neighborhood of 43 million unborn babies because of Roe v. Wade.

And I think the American people are tired of this. They want conservative judges.

ZAHN: But Rev. Robertson, do you understand why some people are offended, even though you're saying you're not telling your followers to pray for ill health for these three justices, that they could actually interpret it that way.

ROBERTSON: Well they can interpret it any way they want to. I'm talking to God, and it's up to him to make a decision and if some of these folks don't like what I'm praying for and want to pray the other way, have at it? Let the Lord decide.

ZAHN: Would it be in your judgment and your definition of prayer, equally appropriate for you to pray for a change in the Constitution that wouldn't allow for a life term on the bench?

ROBERTSON: The possibility of getting a Constitutional amendment of that magnitude through both houses of Congress on a two-thirds vote and then through three quarters of the state legislatures is virtually impossible. I can't understand it.

Paula, the problem is you have five unelected people who are determining what the Constitution is, how it affects all of us, and these people aren't elected. They're accountable to nobody and I'm just saying there needs to be some accountability, that's all.

I've tried constitutional amendments, by the way. We pushed one, big time, back in about 1982. And I had Jim Wright on board and I had Bob Byrd on board and I had the Democrats on board, and there were six Republicans that axed it in the Senate. We had the House of Representatives going for the amendment. This had to do with prayer in the schools.

ZAHN: Just a final question for you and I don't mean this in a rude way at all.

ROBERTSON: Be rude.

ZAHN: When you're talking about prayer, I mean, have you ever prayed for that Constitutional amendment? ... Have you ever prayed for that change?

ROBERTSON: Listen, we prayed, we worked, we lobbied, we did everything we could possibly do and six Republicans blocked it because they said, if these religious people get their way on this one, they'll keep coming back for more. And it was a heartbreaking thing that took place, and as I say, 1982, so I'm at this a long time.

But Paula, I prayed for the downfall of the Soviet Union. I thought that communism, the tyranny of communism, was an abomination and I beseeched God to bring that terrible evil down and he did. It was a great triumph, it took awhile, but it happened.


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