"John Roberts only had to worry about, you know, the left," he said, referring to the recently confirmed chief justice. "She’s going to have to worry about the left and the right."
E. J. Dionne, Jr. is in high dudgeon, upset that the Bush Administration has made an issue of Miers’s evangelicalism but refused to let the Left make an issue of Roberts’s Catholicism. Hypocrisy, he says. That would be the pot calling the kettle black, as, by his lights, the Administration is taking his advice. Of course, Dionne is interested in religion because he assumes that it will influence a judge’s rulings. I have disagreed with this position before, as have people
much smarter than I am.
That said, the Bush Administration is taking a risk in calling attention to Miers’s church life, however much it indicates about her heart (which is what the Democrats said they wanted to know about Roberts). With nuances getting lost in the noise, it may serve to reinforce expectations on the Left and educate expectations among evangelicals that one’s faith does and should influence one’s Constitutional doctrine. Smart evangelicals have carefully avoided this implication thus far; I’d hate for the Bush Administration to undo the good work they’ve done as they rally the troops for this confirmation battle.
Update: Power Liner Paul Mirengoff has more thoughts on Dionnes column. I would beg to differ with him about the meaning of the "religious test" clause of the Constitution, which forbids only formal religious tests, not religiously-bigoted voting by Senators. Such bigotry may well be reprehensible, and provide grounds for political criticism, but its not thereby unconstitutional. Yes, the spirit of the Constitution discourages "private" bigotry, but it prohibits only the overt or public emblem of it, e.g., a formal legal requirement that one profess or repudiate a faith in order to be eligible for office. Mr. Mirengoffs position would lead to the kind of mind-reading attempted by the Court in its application of the infamous Lemon test.