Monday, August 01, 2005

Is Roberts Being Victimized for His Catholicism?

Christopher Hitchens doesn't think so .

To understand this you have to have the background, which Hitch provides.
Everybody seems to have agreed to tiptoe around the report that Judge John G. Roberts said he would recuse himself in a case where the law required a ruling that the Catholic Church might consider immoral. According to Jonathan Turley, a professor of law at George Washington University, the judge gave this answer in a private meeting with Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D. Ill., who is the Senate minority whip. Durbin told Turley that when asked the question, Roberts looked taken aback and paused for a long time before giving his reply.
As Hitch adeptly argues, the Catholic Roberts is not being unfairly scrutinized for the country's highest court considering a Catholic's primary allegiance is supposed to be to the Roman Catholic Church and two highly volatile issues will likely be addressed during Roberts time on the Supreme Court that contradict Church teaching.
It is already being insinuated, by those who want this thorny question de-thorned, that there is an element of discrimination involved. Why should this question be asked only of Catholics? Well, that's easy. The Roman Catholic Church claims the right to legislate on morals for all its members and to excommunicate them if they don't conform. The church is also a foreign state, which has diplomatic relations with Washington. In the very recent past, this church and this state gave asylum to Cardinal Bernard Law, who should have been indicted for his role in the systematic rape and torture of thousands of American children. (Not that child abuse is condemned in the Ten Commandments, any more than slavery or genocide or rape.) More recently still, the newly installed Pope Benedict XVI (who will always be Ratzinger to me) has ruled that Catholic politicians who endorse the right to abortion should be denied the sacraments: no light matter for believers of the sincerity that Judge Roberts and his wife are said to exhibit. And just last month, one of Ratzinger's closest allies, Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna, wrote an essay in which he announced that evolution was "ideology, not science."

Thus, quite apart from the scandalous obstruction of American justice in which the church took part in the matter of Cardinal Law, we have increasingly firm papal dogmas on two issues that are bound to come before the court: abortion and the teaching of Darwin in schools. So, please do not accuse me of suggesting a "dual loyalty" among American Catholics. It is their own church, and its conduct and its teachings, that raise this question.
Much has been made about Democrats being against "people of faith," and that religious minded conservatives are being hounded by the Democrats during the various Senate confirmation hearings for their beliefs. Let's get honest, religious faith, in the sense that you believe a certain moral precept is commanded by God and cannot be broken, is a public matter when deciding what judges will sit on any bench because their sole obligation is to rule according to the Constitution and precedent, not divinely revealed legislation or by heeding the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

If you cannot abide being asked which you favor, the Constitution of the United States or the Catholic Church's teaching, then study for the seminary, not the bar exam.

Do yourself a favor and read the rest of Hitch's polemic, Scalia flies into his crosshairs and, if you remember how easy Nintendo's Duck Hunt was, the result isn't pretty.