Montgomery, Ala. – Two days after being sworn in as Alabama governor, Robert Bentley apologized Wednesday for proclaiming to a Baptist church audience that only Christians were his brothers and sisters and vowed to work for people of all faiths and colors.
His comments Monday shocked and offended some believers of other faiths, but the backlash didn’t seem to be a serious political wound for the retired dermatologist and Southern Baptist deacon.
In a conservative state with some of the highest levels of church attendance in the country, some Christian leaders defended the remarks.
“If anyone from other religions felt disenfranchised by the language, I want to say I am sorry. I am sorry if I offended anyone in any way,” he told reporters Wednesday after meeting with leaders of other faiths in his new office.
Court OKs broader security checks
Washington – In a case that raised questions on whether the government had overreached after 9/11, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that government scientists and contractors are lawfully subject to background security checks.
The case was brought by 28 veteran scientists and researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and challenged a directive by then-President George W. Bush to extend background checks to all corporate, college and think tank employees who worked on government-funded projects.
In its unanimous decision, the court ruled that questions of drug use and other personal matters do not constitute a violation of privacy rights. The justices also held that it was reasonable for the government to inquire about the trustworthiness of people working on multibillion-dollar projects.
Writing for the court, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said that if the government pried into the private lives of ordinary citizens, that could raise concerns. But the government has “wide latitude,” he wrote, “in its dealings with employees,” making the checks acceptable.