Digest of Today's Posts (30 April 2007)
(Digest of Weekend's Posts (29 April 2007))
Labels: Digest of Posts
Labels: Digest of Posts
I just came across an eerie post written last week by Leticia Velasquez at her blog Cause of Our Joy about a town - Woodstock, VT - that reads like something straight out of a Stephen King novel:
I once vacationed with my three girls in a town without children. It was a picture perfect Vermont town, that could have come from Norman Rockwell, but there were no children on the street. I first noticed something amiss as we first drove through, the many art galleries had signs saying "no children" and "dogs welcome". Strange I wondered, where are the children?Spooky.
I had seen the future of an America which aborts it's children, and cherishes it's dogs, and I was terrified.
Labels: Culture of Death
Matt Hurley sends along a news story with some interesting statistics concerning vocations to the Catholic priesthood:
WASHINGTON, April 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The average age of men ordained in the United States to the Catholic priesthood in 2007 is 35, and one out of three of them is foreign born. In addition, most entered the seminary with a college diploma, some with advanced degrees in areas such as law, medicine, and education.
The information was compiled by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) for The Class of 2007: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood. CARA conducts the survey annually for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation.
Researchers gathered information from 282 seminarians, estimated to be approximately 60 percent of the 475 potential ordinands. These 282 seminarians include 221 ordinands to the diocesan priesthood and 60 to the religious priesthood.
Major findings noted that
- The average age of ordinands for the Class of 2007 is 35. This is approximately the same as it was in 1998, the first year for which data are available.
- On average, diocesan ordinands lived in the diocese for which they will be ordained for 17 years before entering the seminary. Religious ordinands knew the members of their religious institute an average of six years before they entered the seminary.
- Seven in ten responding ordinands report their primary race or ethnicity as Caucasian, European American, or white. Compared to the U.S. adult Catholic population in general, ordinands are more likely to be Asian, but less likely to be Hispanic/Latino. Religious ordinands are less likely than diocesan ordinands or the U.S. adult Catholic population to report their race or ethnicity as aucasian/European
- One in three ordinands was born outside the United States, with the largest numbers coming from Vietnam, Mexico, Poland, or the Philippines. Religious are more likely than diocesan ordinands to be foreign-born. The percentage that is foreign-born (31 percent) is nearly the same as it was in 2006 (30 percent), but has increased from the 24 percent reported in 1998. On average, responding ordinands who were born outside the United States have lived here ten years.
- Nearly all ordinands have been Catholic since birth, although 6 percent became Catholic later in life.
- More than six in ten ordinands completed college, and one in five had attained a graduate degree, before entering the seminary.
- Half of responding ordinands attended a Catholic elementary school, as have almost half of all U.S. Catholic adults. Ordinands are somewhat more likely than other U.S. Catholic adults to have attended a Catholic high school. They are much more likely than other U.S. Catholics to have attended a Catholic college.
- About two-thirds of ordinands report having full-time work experience before entering the seminary, most often in education. Slightly less than one in ten has served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
- On average, the responding ordinands report that they were about 17-and-a-half when they first considered priesthood as a vocation.
The complete survey report can be found at http://www.usccb.org/vocations.
Law professor and former Justice Department official John Yoo writes in The Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal:
Almost 50 years ago, a young presidential candidate named John F. Kennedy declared, "I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me." Americans put aside worries about his Catholic faith and elected him to our nation's highest office.
But for many liberals today, what's good enough for a Kennedy in the White House isn't good enough for a Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Earlier this month Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the 5-4 majority opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart upholding the 2003 Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, which prohibits an abortion procedure that partially delivers a living fetus and then kills it.
Liberal critics just can't believe that a majority of Americans find this procedure immoral. Nor can they understand why many think the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade is muddle-headed and misguided for conjuring a woman's right to abortion out of a constitutional guarantee of "due process." Nor do they appreciate that many think the Supreme Court has usurped the democratic process by choosing to decide the correct balance between the rights of a pregnant woman and an unborn child.
Instead, pro-choice liberals resort to the claim that the decision in Carhart must come not from reason, but from the justices' personal religious beliefs. Geoffrey Stone, former dean of the University of Chicago Law School, claims the justices upheld the ban because they're Catholic. "It is too obvious, and too telling, to ignore," he writes on his law school's Web site. "By making this judgment, these justices have failed to respect the fundamental difference between religious belief and morality."
Mr. Stone's view apparently is shared by Rosie O'Donnell, who asked on ABC's "The View": "How about separation of church and state in America?" Similarly, a pro-choice coalition of religious leaders issued a statement saying the five justices in the majority "decided they could better determine what was moral and good than the physicians, women and families facing difficult, personal choices in problem pregnancies."
These accusations rely on one truth. The five justices in the Carhart majority--Kennedy, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito--are Catholic. But as a critique of the Supreme Court's work, the claim is plain silly, if not sad.
No one thinks religious belief explains the views of the dissenting justices. Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it seems, are Jewish, while Justices John Paul Stevens and David Souter presumably are Protestants. Do liberals think their four votes are corrupt because Jewish or mainline Protestants leaders support a constitutionalized right to abortion? Liberals did not raise religion when Justice Kennedy voted in Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992) to reaffirm Roe, nor when he parted ways last week with his Catholic brethren who wanted to uphold three death sentences (the Church opposes the death penalty).
Playing the religion card is worse than silly because it shows how intellectually lazy the liberal defense of Roe has become. There are many reasons why the court upheld the federal partial-birth abortion law, but not a state ban that it struck down in 2000. The court found the state law too vague, while the federal law is more specific about the prohibited procedures. The court may have been demonstrating more respect for the judgment of Congress than that of the states. Or the court may have been following public opinion: Polls show that a majority of Americans agree with the partial-birth abortion ban. Almost two-thirds of the Senate, including Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy and Harry Reid voted for it. Four years ago, today's critics didn't ask whether Mr. Leahy's and Mr. Reid's votes were inspired by their Catholic or Mormon faiths.
Rather than develop reasoned responses to the court or the arguments of conservatives, liberal critics resort to the mystical for easy answers. They suggest that irrational religious faith or pure Catholic doctrine handed down from the Vatican drives the Justices. It is much easier to dismiss your opponents as driven by mysterious forces than to do the hard work of developing arguments built on human reason. This religious critique recalls the nativist fear of Catholicism that too often appears in U.S. history. Senate Democrats appealed to the same bias when they filibustered judicial nominees for their "deeply held" religious beliefs, as Sen. Charles Schumer said of now-circuit judge William Pryor.
Now that liberals want to keep count of these matters, I should disclose that I am not Catholic. I did clerk for Justice Thomas, but I didn't know if he was Catholic at the time. To confuse matters, I agree with the late law professor John Hart Ely (religion unknown) who wrote that Roe v. Wade was wrong "because it is not constitutional law and gives no sense of an obligation to try to be." But if the court ever returned the issue to the states, I would probably vote for a woman's legal right to an abortion in California. And I fully agree with my liberal colleagues who like to make sport of Justice Kennedy's opinions: He often seems more interested in his power on the court as the crucial fifth vote than in consistently advancing a coherent view of constitutional law.
I don't know how all of this would fit on the critics' religious scorecard, but it is a score that most Americans won't keep.
From Cybercast News Service:
(CNSNews.com) - After drawing fire from school administrators and student rights groups over the past month, a Rhode Island college student senate has overturned its decision to force an apology from the College Republican chapter for a satirical stunt.
Highlighting its opposition to scholarships not based on merit, College Republicans at Rhode Island University decided late last year to offer a scholarship for "white male heterosexuals." Applicants were invited to submit an essay describing the "adversity" experienced for being a white heterosexual male.
The senate's Student Organizations Advisory Review Committee (SOARC) decided the scholarship violated the school's anti-discrimination bylaws and voted earlier this month to force the group to apologize.
The SOARC stance drew criticism from the school administration and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), but when the College Republicans refused to apologize, the committee voted to derecognize the group.
But in a meeting of the full student senate last week, that decision was overturned, and the request for an apology was withdrawn. The senate instead asked the College Republicans to write a letter to 40 students who had applied, explaining that the $100 scholarship was purely satirical.
Student senate President Neil Leston told Cybercast News Service Friday that he did not think that forcing the College Republicans to apologize was a just decision.
(Hat tip: Dave Hartline at Catholic Report)
Later, comedian Billy Crystal, making another appearance at the annual event, joined the act.Nice.
"I respect his right to choose," Crystal said of Burke. "His right to choose not to be here."
After a round of applause, Crystal added: "After all, charity begins at home — because that's where he is."
... who has suffered a heart attack. Details from Mark Shea and Dom Bettinelli's.
Rumors of My Impending Death...I hope you could use the prayers anyway, Father.
...have been greatly exaggerated.
I'm not sure where this came from, but the story over on Mark Shea's blog is untrue. Not that I'm in any way upset with Mark. I just spoke with him on the phone a few minutes ago, and I know he was acting in good faith.
I'm not near death, I didn't have a heart attack. In fact, I'm fine. Rumors of my death might reflect wishful thinking on the part of some, but, oh well, it seems I'm going to be around for a while yet.
One good thing, I suppose about this is that I'm finding out who my friends are. I've had many phone calls of concern in the last half-hour or so, and it's nice to see all the promises of prayer. Thanks to all of you!
Labels: Digest of Posts
Read this from LifeNews to see the Party of Death in action:
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- There's one thing all of the Democratic candidates seeking the party's nomination for president have in common -- they all strongly support abortion. The candidates put those pro-abortion views on display last night in the first primary presidential debate of the election season.(emphasis added)
Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards left off the debate with the first question on abortion issues going to him.
He said he disagreed with the Supreme Court's ruling upholding a national ban on partial-birth abortions and promised, if elected, to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would promote abortion on the bench.
"I would say first that this decision by the Supreme Court is actually a perfect example of what's at stake in this election. The kind of people that will be appointed to the United States Supreme Court by the next president will control whether [abortion is allowed]," he said.
Senator Barack Obama of Illinois also opposed the ruling and said the broader issue is whether abortion should be legal in general -- and he said he supported that.
Joe Biden, a Delaware senator, got the next abortion question and indicated he "strongly supported Roe v. Wade" which allowed unlimited abortion throughout pregnancy.
He said he would "make sure that the people I sent to be nominated to the Supreme Court shared my values" and supported pro-abortion rulings like Roe.
"That's why I led the fight to defeat Bork. Thank God he's not on the court or this would -- Roe v. Wade would be gone by now," Biden added about the battle over a pro-life nominee for the high court defeated in the 1980s.
Biden pointed to his opposition to Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, all of whom voted to uphold the partial-birth abortion ban.
Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, who backs abortion, told the audience that he didn't regret his decision to vote for Alito's appointment but said he was "disappointed terribly by the decision." He claimed Alito violated comments he made in his confirmation hearings to respect precedent.
Asked to name his favorite Supreme Court justice, pro-abortion Gov. Bill Richardson chimed in and mentioned pro-abortion Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a former ACLU attorney. He said he made the choice because of her dissent in the partial-birth abortion case -- a point on which Senator Dodd concurred.
Dennis Kucinich, a pro-abortion Ohio congressman, said during the debate that any of his appointments to the Supreme Court would reflect his pro-abortion views. "I don't know how it could be otherwise."
Finally, during a question and answer phase about the biggest mistake each candidate has made during his political life, Senator Obama talked about Terri Schiavo.
"I think professionally the biggest mistake that I made was when I first arrived in the Senate. There was a debate about Terri Schiavo, and a lot of us, including me, left the Senate with a bill that allowed Congress to intrude where it shouldn't have," he said.
"And I think I should have stayed in the Senate and fought more for making sure [Terri's parents couldn't take their case to federal court to save her life]," he explained.
(Hat tip: Leticia)
From the Toledo Blade:
... Now, how would one disarm the American population? First of all, federal or state laws would need to make it a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine and one year in prison per weapon to possess a firearm. The population would then be given three months to turn in their guns, without penalty.(emphasis added)
Hunters would be able to deposit their hunting weapons in a centrally located arsenal, heavily guarded, from which they would be able to withdraw them each hunting season upon presentation of a valid hunting license. The weapons would be required to be redeposited at the end of the season on pain of arrest. When hunters submit a request for their weapons, federal, state, and local checks would be made to establish that they had not been convicted of a violent crime since the last time they withdrew their weapons. In the process, arsenal staff would take at least a quick look at each hunter to try to affirm that he was not obviously unhinged.
It would have to be the case that the term "hunting weapon" did not include anti-tank ordnance, assault weapons, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, or other weapons of war.
All antique or interesting non-hunting weapons would be required to be delivered to a local or regional museum, also to be under strict 24-hour-a-day guard. There they would be on display, if the owner desired, as part of an interesting exhibit of antique American weapons, as family heirlooms from proud wars past or as part of collections.
Gun dealers could continue their work, selling hunting and antique firearms. They would be required to maintain very tight inventories. Any gun sold would be delivered immediately by the dealer to the nearest arsenal or the museum, not to the buyer.
The disarmament process would begin after the initial three-month amnesty. Special squads of police would be formed and trained to carry out the work. Then, on a random basis to permit no advance warning, city blocks and stretches of suburban and rural areas would be cordoned off and searches carried out in every business, dwelling, and empty building. All firearms would be seized. The owners of weapons found in the searches would be prosecuted: $1,000 and one year in prison for each firearm.
Clearly, since such sweeps could not take place all across the country at the same time. But fairly quickly there would begin to be gun-swept, gun-free areas where there should be no firearms. If there were, those carrying them would be subject to quick confiscation and prosecution. On the streets it would be a question of stop-and-search of anyone, even grandma with her walker, with the same penalties for "carrying." ...
Chuck Colson writes:
The editorial cartoon appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer in the wake of the Supreme Court decision upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. It featured the nine justices sitting on the bench. The five Catholic justices who voted to uphold the ban are depicted wearing bishops’ mitres. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is Jewish, is staring at them with a horrified look. So are the three Protestant justices.(emphasis added)
The cartoon’s message was clear: The Catholics had voted, not to uphold the law, but to impose their personal religious views. It’s a graphic example of anti-Catholic bigotry.
The Philadelphia Inquirer was hardly alone. Now, it’s not surprising when irresponsible commentators like Rosie O’Donnell make bigoted remarks about Catholics—as she did. Well, at least she won’t be on ABC for a while. But it is shocking when more respectable observers do so.
For instance, Geoffrey Stone, former dean of the University of Chicago law school, writes that “all five justices in the majority in [this case] are Catholic. The four justices who either are Protestant or Jewish all voted in accord with settled precedent”—note that. And then he adds: “The five justices in the majority [that is, the Catholics] . . . failed to respect the fundamental difference between religious belief and morality.”
If you uphold a law approved by both parties in Congress and supported by most Americans, you are imposing your morality. But if you vote against the ban, you have nobly kept your religious views from interfering with your job. The ugly implication here is obvious: that it is not possible for faithful Catholic judges to carry out their responsibility to interpret and uphold the law.
Imagine the reaction if a cartoonist had suggested this of other religious groups—if they had portrayed justices wearing yarmulkes or holding the Koran. Joseph Cella, head of a Catholic pro-life group, is right in saying that the Philadelphia Inquirer cartoon is “venomous, terribly misleading, and blatantly anti-Catholic.”
Protestants have a special duty to condemn anti-Catholic bigotry. Shamefully, at one time many Protestants accepted the vile teachings of Paul Blanchard, author of American Freedom and Catholic Power. They supported the anti-Catholic agenda of the group for which he was general counsel: Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Our Catholic brethren should not have to wait to hear our voices forcefully raised against the bigotry now directed against them.
That’s why I am circulating with some other Christian leaders a statement calling on Protestants to join us in condemning this bigotry.
We also call on groups that present themselves as the enemies of prejudice to join us as well. And in particular, we invite Americans United to do so. Let us know once and for all: Are they selective opponents of prejudice? Do they regard anti-Catholicism as an acceptable form of bigotry?
It is appropriate to demand an apology when people in public life use their position to engage in bigotry—just as we did with Don Imus. Subscribers to the Inquirer ought to drop their subscriptions, or boycott the products of their advertisers, until an apology is forthcoming.
All forms of bigotry are vile and must be exposed for what they are: attacks on the very character of a civil society. Apologies are called for.
Joanna Bogle writes that she is "worried":
The Family Bulletin of the useful organisation Family and Youth Concern arrives in the post. It includes a detailed analysis of the Govt's new Sexual Orientation Regulations. The full implications of these, and especially the restrictions they carry on the teaching of religious and moral; values to children, have not yet been fully graped by many (most?) Christian organisations or other community groups. It looks as though even the giving of private advice might be subject to the possibility of legal action, for example a priest urging people to uphold the principle of male/female marriage and not to do anything which blurs the distinction between this and a homosexual union.
I think a lot of people are simply hoping that these Regulations will be largely ignored or will simply go away. Hmmmm. They come into force on April 30th.
And the winner of this week's Rosie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Anti-Catholic Commentary is:
ANN ARBOR, MI – In its brief filed last week with the U. S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Thomas More Law Center urged the court to reverse a federal judge’s ruling that an anti-Catholic resolution of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors was constitutionally justified because the Church opposed adoptions by homosexual couples. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, a President Carter appointee and one-time counsel for the National Organization for Women (NOW), ruled that the Board resolution condemning Catholic moral teaching on homosexuality and urging the Archbishop of San Francisco and Catholic Charities of San Francisco to defy Church directives does not violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.(emphasis added)
The Thomas More Law Center, a national Christian legal advocacy group based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is appealing the ruling on behalf of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and two Catholic residents of San Francisco. Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, observed, “Judge Patel clearly exhibited hostility toward the Catholic Church. During oral argument and in her written decision she claimed that the Church ‘provoked the debate’ by publicly expressing its moral teaching, and that by passing the resolution the City responded ‘responsibly’ to all of the ‘terrible’ things the Church was saying. This judge attempted to rationalize the evocative rhetoric and venom of the resolution which are sad reminders of Catholic baiting by the Ku Klux Klan.”
In her written opinion upholding the resolution against the Law Center’s constitutional challenge, the federal judge defended the City by essentially claiming that the Church invited the attack by publicly expressing its teaching on moral issues. The judge stated, “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith provoked this debate, indeed may have invited entanglement, by its [doctrinal] statement. This court does not find that our case law requires political bodies to remain silent in the face of this provocation.”
Thompson commented, “Even more remarkable was the judge’s questioning during oral argument. When Mr. Muise explained to the judge that the constitution is a restriction on government because the government has the power of the law to coerce behavior, the judge responded coldly, ‘You saying, the power to condemn someone to Hell isn’t more important to some people than being condemned by the state to have to pay a fine or go to jail?’ Mr. Muise, who was stunned by this comment, responded by explaining that the Church doesn’t condemn anyone to Hell, only God has that authority. To which the judge wryly stated, ‘I’m glad to hear that.’”
Labels: Digest of Posts
... is the answer to the question posed by the Google search "What nationality mostly is Norwalk, Ohio" (which led someone to this blog).
Darby and Buster.
(Hat tip: Amy Welborn)
... There was a lone dissenter in the case, who happened to be the only Catholic justice on the court, Pierce Butler. With the benefit of hindsight, we look back in horror at this decision. It was a naked appeal to moral relativism, an exercise in callous utilitarianism. Nowhere did it acknowledge the God-given human dignity of the person in question. And yet, the Catholic justice stood alone. Perhaps he was the subject of anti-Catholic attacks for his dissent. Did he see something the others could not?Not if Tony A's party and preferred candidates have their way.
Eighty years into the future, will people be looking back and applauding the stance of the Catholic justices in Gonzales v. Carhart, wondering in horror how the weight of established opinion favored such a procedure that again appealed to cold utilitarianism?
From Cybercast News Service:
(CNSNews.com) - The House Judiciary Committee passed a "hate crimes" bill Wednesday night, all 23 Democrats in favor, all 17 Republicans opposed. Every Republican attempt to amend the bill was defeated. Critics call it a "thought crimes" bill.See also "Hate Crimes Law Could Muzzle Free Speech, Critics Fear (April 18, 2007)"
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (H.R. 1592) would expand the federal definition of hate crimes to include violence against a person because of his or her "actual or perceived" sexual orientation or "gender identity."
Under the bill, people who attack others out of "hatred" for their race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability would be committing a federal offense.
The bill is now headed to the full House for a vote, probably next week.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) proposed an amendment protecting freedom of religion: "Nothing in this section limits the religious freedom of any person or group under the constitution," the amendment read, but that, too, was defeated.
Conservatives, including Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Tex.), worry that religious leaders who denounce homosexuality as a sin may be charged with incitement under the legislation.
"By refusing to accept this amendment the Democrats on this committee have proven their purpose, to remove freedom of religion from the U.S. Constitution," said Sheldon.
"It is evident what HR 1592 is about," Sheldon added.
"It is not about homosexuals and cross dressers suffering with no food, shelter or jobs, it is about preventing Bible-believing people and pastors from speaking the truth. It is about punishing them so they will not dare to speak the truth. It is about threatening them with prison so they won't dare speak the truth."
From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON, April 25 — The Supreme Court put defenders of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law on the defensive on Wednesday in a spirited argument that suggested the court could soon open a significant loophole in the measure.My Comments:
At issue is a major provision of the five-year-old law that bars corporations and labor unions from paying for advertisements that mention the name of a candidate for federal office and that are broadcast 60 days before an election or 30 days before a primary. By a 5-to-4 vote in December 2003, the court held that the provision, on its face, passed First Amendment muster.
But a new majority may view more expansively the Constitution’s protection of political messages as free speech, and invite a flood of advertising paid for by corporations and unions as the 2008 elections move into high gear.
The argument on Wednesday was over whether, despite the 2003 blanket endorsement, the law would be constitutional if applied to three specific ads that an anti-abortion group sought to broadcast before the 2004 Senate election in Wisconsin.
The ads, sponsored by Wisconsin Right to Life Inc., mentioned the state’s two senators, both Democrats: Russell D. Feingold, a co-sponsor of the McCain-Feingold law, who was up for re-election, and Herb Kohl, who was not. The advertisements’ focus was a Democratic-led filibuster of some of President Bush’s judicial nominees. Viewers were urged to “contact Senators Feingold and Kohl and tell them to oppose the filibuster.” The ads provided no contact information, instead directing viewers to a Web site that contained explicit criticism of Mr. Feingold.
A special three-judge Federal District Court here ruled that because the text and images of the ads did not show that they were “intended to influence the voters’ decisions,” they were “genuine issue ads” that the government could not keep off the air.
If the Roberts court were writing on a clean slate, a broad declaration of unconstitutionality might well be the result. But the court’s 2003 decision in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, upholding the law, is so recent as to make such a bold step unlikely. Instead, many election law experts believe the fate of the statute may depend on how broad an exception the court carves out through its handling of this or future “as applied” challenges.
The four dissenters from the 2003 decision were Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas, all of whom are still on the court, and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. Chief Justice Roberts appeared fully prepared to step into his predecessor’s shoes. So all eyes were on the court’s other newcomer, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who as the successor to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a co-author of the 2003 decision, probably holds the balance.
Catholic legal scholar Professor Rick Garnett writes that for a judge to credit the legislature's conclusion that human fetuses are moral subjects whose lives have value is not to impose "religious" beliefs:
Fifteen years ago, Justice Anthony Kennedy co-authored an opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey which proclaimed that “liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt” and re-affirmed a woman’s “right to terminate her pregnancy in its early stages.” On April 18, however, Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion for a five-Justice majority in Gonzales v. Carhart which rejected a “broad, facial attack” on the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. What happened?
... the attacks on the majority’s ruling are coming fast and furious. According to New York Times, this decision was “atrocious” and “comes at a real cost to the court’s credibility, its integrity and the rule of law.” In some quarters, the Court’s decision not to nullify a bipartisan and popular act of Congress is seen – oddly enough – as an instance of the very “judicial activism” that conservatives purport to oppose. Still others detect in the ruling – in the words of one blogger – a “chill wind blowing from Rome.”
The five Justices in the majority, remember, are Roman Catholics.
There were no Catholic Justices on the Court until 1836, when Roger Taney succeeded John Marshall. And it would be more than another half-century – fifty-eight years – until the elevation of the second, Edward White. Looking back, the fact that only one of our first 54 Justices was Catholic should come as no surprise. From the Puritans to the Framers and beyond, anti-“popery” was long thick the cultural air of America. Well into the twentieth century, it was regularly charged and widely believed that there is something un-American about Catholic clergy, teachings, and adherents. And so, it is not surprising that, over the years, politicians and commentators alike have demanded assurances that Catholic judicial nominees would not be “Catholic” justices. President Roosevelt, for example, was promised that Frank Murphy would “not let religion stand in his way,” and Murphy himself made it clear that his faith and his judicial vocation were kept “in air-tight compartments.”
These familiar questions were raised again – if more artfully and cautiously – after the nominations of Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts. Indeed, the rarely reticent Christopher Hitchens challenged his colleagues in the press to “quit tiptoeing around John Roberts’ faith.” After all, he observed, the Catholic Church is a “foreign state” and “claims the right to legislate on morals[.]” Hitchens was hardly alone in being alarmed by the prospect of a majority-Catholic Court. Many worried that the Catholic Justices might be tempted to substitute their own personal religious convictions, or the moral teachings of their Church, for the Constitution’s requirements, particularly in cases involving divisive and difficult “social issues.”
According to one of the legal academy’s most distinguished constitutional law scholars, Carhart suggests that these worries were well founded. In a widely noted blog post, my colleague Professor Geoffrey Stone characterized and criticized the majority in Carhart as “faith-based justices” who “failed to respect the fundamental difference between religious belief and morality. To be sure,” he wrote, “this can be an elusive distinction, but in a society that values the separation of church and state, it is fundamental.”
The distinction is, indeed, “elusive.” And, in any event, the charge is misplaced. It is true that the majority included “moral concerns” – like the public interest in promoting “respect for life” – among the “legitimate government interests” that could justify the federal ban. It is not clear, though, why we should regard these concerns, or the view that human fetuses are moral subjects whose lives have value, as any more “religious”, and therefore suspect, than our nation’s fundamental commitment to the view that all human beings are moral equals, regardless of race, and should be treated as such in law. For a judge to identify such concerns as a permissible basis for legislating – given the fact that, in the Court’s view, the law did not impose an “undue burden” on the abortion right – is not to attack church-state separation or to substitute revelation for the will of We the People.
It is, of course, hardly a secret that a Catholic justice is taught by his or her Church, and should believe, that abortion is a grave moral evil. However, all judges – Catholic or not – come to the bench with views, commitments, and experiences that shape their decision-making and reasoning. We can, and should, ask of every judge that she work conscientiously in every case to identify not her own preferred or “faith-based” outcome but the answer that is given by the relevant legal texts, rules, and precedents. As it happens, the Catholic understanding of vocation, and of justice under law, extends to Catholic judges the same invitation.
Students for Brownback rally in Ohio today (Apr 25, 2007):
(Hat tip: Amy Welborn)
The five justices who turned the Supreme Court around last week and upheld the ban on “partial birth abortion” had much in common.My Comments:
All are men. All were nominated by conservative Republican presidents. And, it was widely noted, all are Roman Catholics.
Did their religion matter? Should it even be discussed? In the wake of the 5-4 ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart, these questions have been raised and debated in venues from the blog of the American Constitution Society (where Geoffrey R. Stone, a constitutional law professor, said the justices’ religious identity was “too obvious, and too telling, to ignore,”) to ABC’s “The View,” (where Rosie O'Donnell declared, "How about separation of church and state in America?" according to ABC News.)
The pushback from conservative Catholics was immediate - even pre-emptive. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, declared, “We need more, not fewer, Catholics on the Supreme Court.” On his Web site, the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, an influential conservative, wrote last week, “I expect it is on the minds of many, but so far there has been only marginal public comment on the fact that all five in the Carhart majority are Catholics.” He added, “What can one say? Know-Nothings of the world unite?” [ED.: she failed to mention this preemptive post from a certain blogger.]
This discussion was probably inevitable: Catholics, for the first time, hold a majority of seats on the Supreme Court, after decades when there were, typically, only one or maybe two “Catholic seats” on the bench. Two of the Catholic justices, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, were confirmed only in the past two years, in an ideologically charged environment in which all sides were eager for clues on how they might rule on abortion rights and other hot-button issues.
With so much unknown about their legal leanings, their religion became a proxy for both sides -- a source of reassurances for conservatives, and of anxiety for liberals. But the nominees’ supporters discouraged any questions about the role of their faith in the confirmation hearings, essentially arguing that it would amount to an unacceptable “religious test” for public office.
John Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, said that the existence of a Catholic majority on the court should not be minimized as a historical marker of “just how much the nation has changed over the last century.” But, he added, “When it comes to predicting what they will do, it’s important to note that this is a Republican Catholic majority.” [ED.: You mean party matters?]
In fact, American Catholics are very much a two-party religion. The Catholic vote has typically split in recent presidential elections, and Catholic elected officials fill the top ranks of both parties. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Senator Patrick Leahy and the 2004 presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry, are all Catholics - and Democrats who support abortion rights. [ED.: And let's not forget Joe Biden, Dick Dirtbag, Jennifer Granholm, Bill Richardson, etc., etc. In short, almost every prominent elected Democrat who is Catholic is out of step with his or her Church on the issue of abortion.]
Catholic Mom sends along this breaking news:
NEW YORK - Rosie O'Donnell's stormy tenure on "The View" will be a short one. The opinionated host was unable to agree on a contract with ABC, and she'll leave the show in June.My Comments:
"My needs for the future just didn't dovetail with what ABC was able to offer me," O'Donnell said in a statement Wednesday.
"This has been an amazing experience," she said, "and one I wouldn't have traded for the world."
O'Donnell has helped raise the ratings for the daytime chat show invented by Barbara Walters. But her outspokenness has caused almost constant controversy, including a nasty name-calling feud with Donald Trump that placed Walters squarely in the middle.
"I induced Rosie to come back to television on `The View' even for just one year," Walters said. "She has given the program new vigor, new excitement and wonderful hours of television. I can only be grateful to her for this year."
Walters was frequently left to clean up the damage after O'Donnell. She did it most recently Monday, when O'Donnell was criticized for using bad language and attacking Rupert Murdoch from the dais of the annual New York Women in Communication awards luncheon.
"I would like to point out that Rosie's view is not always mine," Walters said. "I would like to say for the record that I am very fond of Rupert Murdoch."
In the Trump imbroglio, O'Donnell was reportedly mad that Walters did not come more swiftly to her defense, while Trump said Walters told him she didn't want O'Donnell on the show — a claim Walters denied.
Statements by public figures are being watched more closely in the post-Don Imus era. The lobbying group Focus on the Family said it was preparing to contact advertisers on "The View" as part of a campaign against O'Donnell. The group is angry at O'Donnell for comments they feel were insulting to Catholics.
Despite controversy — or maybe because of it — O'Donnell was good business for ABC, owned by the Walt Disney Co. Ratings for "The View" during February sweeps were up 15 percent in key women demographics over the same time in 2006.
Monday, I posted about a federal judge's decision stating that the Catholic Church's position on same-sex adoptions "justified" the city of San Francisco's anti-Catholic resolution condemning Catholic moral teaching on homosexuality and urging the Archbishop of San Francisco and Catholic Charities of San Francisco to defy Church directives.
"The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith provoked this debate, indeed may have invited entanglement, by its [doctrinal] statement. This court does not find that our case law requires political bodies to remain silent in the face of this provocation." (emphasis added)As Catholic Caveman notes, "Provocation"? Catholics being Catholic is now judicially defined as a "provocation"?
Catholic Provocation?(emphasis in original)
The Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, California has taken on the Catholic Church, with the backing of a federal judge. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel is perhaps most widely known for her prominent role in the music-sharing case involving Napster back in 2001. But she's a former counsel for the National Organization of Women, and her vehement bias against the Catholic Church shows.
As you might expect in San Francisco (or anywhere, nowadays), same-sex adoption is at the root of the controversy. The case is currently on appeal, but you'll find the history both interesting and disturbing: Governmental Gay Hostility to the Church
A Naked and Depressing Public Square
If Judge Patel gets her way, any effort on the part of religious groups to influence the beliefs of citizens will be construed as a clear provocation of government, which must respond accordingly. This takes secularism to new heights in yet another demonstration of how ideology inevitably tends toward totalitarianism.
In a democratic society Christian voters have a chance to shift government toward sanity by influencing elections. The bishops of Scotland have issued a brief letter to Catholics urging them to do exactly that: Catholic Bishops Urge Voters to Challenge Attacks on Christian Values "at the Ballot Box". Even this, of course, may well be regarded as a provocation. You may recall that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, where the administration of Prime Minister Tony Blair has also shown a tendency to force Catholics to violate their religious beliefs...
Labels: Digest of Posts
Judy Roberts writes at National Catholic Register that "Creed on Campus thrives at Bowling Green State University" (subscription required):
College student Monica Martinez is a cradle Catholic, but until a few years ago, she never understood the Mass or the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Because of Creed on Campus, a Catholic ministry at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, Martinez no longer finds Mass “boring” and she regularly participates in Eucharistic adoration. After graduating in December, she plans to earn a master’s degree from the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Martinez’s life is just one of many that have been transformed by Creed, which meets in the student union every Thursday night. While their fellow students are streaming into local bars to get an early start on the weekend, Creed members are listening to speakers talk about Church teachings and learning about John Paul II’s theology of the body.
On Friday nights, members of the group gather at nearby St. Aloysius Church for adoration. And, one Sunday a month, they visit the Little Sisters of the Poor Sacred Heart Home for the Aged in Oregon, Ohio, for Mass, lunch and activities with the residents, for whom they put on a “senior prom” in the spring.
Creed also has made pilgrimages to the March for Life in Washington and brought speakers like Mary Beth Bonacci and Christopher West to campus.
Today Creed attracts an average of 50 people to its weekly meetings. As the numbers grew, the group began inviting priests, religious and laypeople to speak at their meetings. Among these were Toledo Diocese Bishop Leonard Blair, who has since returned two more times, and Father David Nuss, the Toledo Diocese vocation director.
[More (subscription required)]
The April 29- May 5, 2007 issue of the National Catholic Register is now available online, and includes 3 Carhart-related pieces that can be viewed without subscription:
The First Things blog On the Square reproduces the text of a talk delivered by Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput at the John Cardinal Krol Conference in Philadelphia on April 21, 2007:
...That revolution, the same revolution that “occurred 2,000 years ago,” is already underway in every believer who confesses passionately and unapologetically—in his private life and in her public witness—that Jesus Christ is Lord, the Son of God, the messiah of Israel, and the only savior of the world. Every other lens we use for understanding the human story, whether we choose economics or gender or Darwin or race or something else, will ultimately lie to us about who we are. And, of course, we also lie to ourselves.(emphasis added)
In her short story “Greenleaf,” Flannery O’Connor once wrote about a widow called Mrs. May who owned a large dairy farm and who thought faith should be a very private matter. O’Connor described her this way: “Mrs. May winced. She thought the word, Jesus, should be kept inside the church building like other words inside the bedroom. She was a good Christian woman with a large respect for religion, though she did not, of course, believe any of it was true.”
If Mrs. May sounds familiar from daily life, she should. The deepest tragedy of our age is how many of our own people who claim to believe in Jesus Christ, really don’t prove it in the way they live their lives—and don’t like the inconvenience of being asked to prove it.
The “common good” is more than a political slogan. It’s more than what most people think they want right now. It’s not a matter of popular consensus or majority opinion. It can’t be reduced to economic justice or social equality or better laws or civil rights, although all these things are vitally important to a healthy society.
The common good is what best serves human happiness in the light of what is real and true. That’s the heart of the matter: What is real and true? If God exists, then the more man flees from God, the less true and real man becomes. If God exists, then a society that refuses to acknowledge or publicly talk about God is suffering from a peculiar kind of insanity...
[WARNING: Harsh language and disturbing image alert!]
Labels: Digest of Posts