Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Questioning Robert's Catholicism

E.J. Dionne Jr. thinks it should be all right. He says so in his Washington Post Column today.

Is it wrong to question Judge John Roberts on how his Catholic faith might affect his decisions as a Supreme Court justice? Or is it wrong not to?

Few topics arouse more hypocrisy and inconsistency than the relationship between religion and politics. Standard practice is to welcome religion into politics when it helps your side and to denounce religious voices when they help the other side.

Conservatives typically praise religious activism on abortion and homosexuality but dismiss liberal clerics who offer theological insights on economics or social spending. Liberals love preachers to speak out for civil rights and economic justice. But they see "a church-state problem" the instant anyone in the clergy speaks out for vouchers or against abortion and stem cell research.

In the case of Roberts, Republicans appreciate the intense lobbying on his behalf by conservative Christian groups and see the nominee's faith as part of his appealing personality. But when Sen. Richard Durbin took Roberts's religious commitments seriously enough to ask him how they might affect the judge's court rulings, the Illinois Democrat was accused of . . . dragging religion into politics.
Well, that's a might Reasonable analysis of the Durbin situation. Although I appreciated his double-smack honesty regarding the partial acception by liberals and conservatives of those religious figures that speak out in favor of their politics. The trouble with his analysis is the deceptive naivete that pours off of it.

"Hey, what's wrong with asking the guy about his religion, huh," Mr. Dionne Jr. appears to ask, "It may be important in determining how he sees the world, and thus sees the law."

Well, sure. If that were the only intention of the Democrats, then such questioning would not be inappropriate. But when the Senators on record for asking about his religion have also, on record, stated of or concerning Judge Roberts:

1)"If he wants to be on the Supreme Court, he has to be more forthcoming .... to convince the American people that a man who could serve on the court for 20 to 30 years really is in the mainstream of American thinking," (Senator Dick Durban, D-Ill)

2)"As important as reproductive rights and women's rights are, I just basically want to know that if the next case involving privacy and personal freedom came up, what he believes," but when [Asked, however, what he would do if Roberts "said he did not see a right to privacy in the Constitution," Durbin told MTP host Tim Russert:] "I wouldn't vote for him. That would disqualify him in my mind."(Senator Dick Durban, D-Ill)

3)Has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with another Democratic Senator on the judicial committee that has opposed candidates with "deeply held beliefs."

Well, excuse me if I suspect that such Senators might have more than a legitimate curiosity about a man's faith. They almost appear to equate a Faithful Catholic with the holder of the wrong political position. Say, on Roe v. Wade! As though a Judge having his own opinion of a law that's firmly rooted in sound legal reasoning disqualified one from being a Supreme Court Justice!

Mr. Dionne is not this naive. A Washington Post columnist does not remain a columnist by being naive. The question remains, then, why he acts so naive? Could he be hoping to lure centrists and swing voters into sympathizing with the poor Democrats? Does he believe they're that naive? Maybe. Never underestimate the clueless arrogance of the Reasonable.

This hapless columnist tries in vain to break the Democrats out of the poor position into which they had boxed themselves. His plea to just lighten up on the "litmus" test accusations that Republicans throw at Durbin and co. simply rings false. The Democrats have equated Faithful Catholics with Roe v. Wade disssidents. Since they, like so many other Reasonable people, believe they are the mainstream, they assume these Catholics are Right-Wing nutcases. Their arrogant dismissal of at least 22 million Americans is rather charming. I'm sure they'll impress a lot of people with this attitude come November. The MSM, being mostly Democrats, if not the most extreme of them, fail to see the cliff towards which their party races. Thus, the Dionne Jr.s of the world rise shotgun on a doomed coach.

Keep it up, boys. You're just making your extinction more certain than ever!

Update: Catholic in the Public Square post Ed Whelan of Beach Memos' response to E.J. Dionne Jr.'s equivelance between Legislatures and Judges:
Mr Whelan comments:

Surely American bishops can be expected to understand and to explain the elementary point that judges, unlike legislators, are bound to determine the meaning of the law, not to engage in policymaking. The fact that American bishops have not criticized Scalia and Thomas for failing to adopt a “pro-life” reading of the Constitution amply testifies to the point.
Evidently, Democrats and other Reasonable folk like Mr. Dionne Jr. can't tell the difference between legislatures and judges. Thus, they assume Catholic Bishops can't as well. Mr. Dionne Jr. reveals his own biases in this column more than he exposes Republican vice. I wonder if he could appreciate the irony of his situation!