Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Lithwick on Goodling, et al

Dahlia Lithwick thinks there’s a confusion between religion and politics implicit in the DoJ brouhaha.

Is there anything wrong with legal scholarship from a Christian perspective? Not that I see. Is there anything wrong with a Bush administration that disproportionately uses graduates from Christian law schools to fill its staffing needs? Not that I see. It’s a shorthand, no better or worse than cherry-picking the Federalist Society or the American Bar Association. I can’t even get exercised over the fact that Gonzales, Karl Rove and Harriet Miers had their baby lawyers making critical staffing decisions. The baby lawyers had extremely clear marching orders.

No, the real concern here is that Goodling and her ilk somehow began to conflate God’s work with the president’s. Probably not a lesson she learned in law school. The dream of Regent and its counterparts, such as Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, is to redress perceived wrongs to Christians, to reclaim the public square and reassert Christian political authority. And while that may have been a part of the Bush/Rove plan, it was only a small part. Their real zeal was for earthly power. And Goodling was left holding the earthly bag.

In the end, Goodling and the other young foot soldiers for God may simply have run afoul of the first rule of politics, codified in Psalm 146: "Put not your trust in princes, in mere mortals in whom there is no help."

Turns out that there’s insufficient religious zeal--and too much politics--in the White House, which isn’t the line we were hearing a couple of years ago. People are longing for the good old days of John Ashcroft, "a devout Pentecostal who forbade use of the word "pride," as well as the phrase "no higher calling than public service," on documents bearing his signature."

If you want to read more about Goodling, go here.

Discussions - 6 Comments

Ashcroft "forbade the use of the word ’pride.’"

God help us.

I don’t know how you derived your most peculiar take on Litwick’s piece, Mr. Knippenberg. From what I read, it certainly seems that the Bush DOJ was definitely trying to move things closer and closer to a theocratic scenario. Hiring all those graduates from Regent and Liberty indicates to me that job candidates’ relgious beliefs (along with loyal to GWB) were prioritized over their knowledge and expertise. I’m sure those small Christian school do teach their students some useful law knowledge, but the schools simply aren’t that great to account for those numbers, unless a certain type (conservative, right-wing) of Christian is the hiring goal.


Two points. First, Lithwick’s point is that the Christians in the Bush Administration were "used" by the political types--basically David Kuo’s argument. Second, hiring Christians doesn’t make you a theocrat.

We all know that you’d never catch a Democratic administration filling positions with people who share their ideological dispositions, don’t we Jim.

If one takes a job with the President or any other political figure, one should expect to "be used." It comes with the territory. People like Kuo and Dowd, at least in retrospect, seem to think they could have been independent contractors. It’s a silly expectation.

We all know that you’d never catch a Democratic administration filling positions with people who share their ideological dispositions

Ah but John, there is no constitutional lanauguage about the "separation of ideology and state", is there.

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