Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A High Wall of Absurdity

Marci Hamilton offers the ridiculous suggestion here that the six Supreme Court justices who attended the Red Mass may have created the appearance of impropriety, raising ethical questions. Appropriately, she retreads the tired and blatantly anti-Catholic argument of University of Chicago Law Professor Geoffrey Stone, who criticized the fact that the recent partial-birth abortion decision was decided by a Catholic voting block. She then praises President Kennedy, who she paraphrases as saying that he would not take his marching orders from Rome, and suggests that it would be "illuminating" if the justices were this open about the relationship between their faith and their jobs.

First, it is worth noting that six justices attended. For those of you keeping count at home, there are only five Catholic justices. Hamilton acknowledges that Breyer, who is Jewish, attended, and she can’t quite figure out why, surmising that he did so perhaps out of solidarity with his brethren. This seems likely enough to me, but it also suggests that the Red Mass is not an event where marching orders are given and received, and that any feigned perception of such is dubious at best. Indeed, aside from her argument that the Red Mass is somehow special because of its focus on the beginning of the judicial term, the criticisms that she mounts about the content of the homily, which included references to life issues, could be (and perhaps tacitly are being made) about virtually every mass conducted in the DC area. It is not just homilies at Red Mass where issues such as the sanctity of life are raised, but rather priests commonly address these issues. Priests, particularly those in the DC area, commonly pray openly at their masses admonishing those in positions of power to respect life. Does this mean that no justice should ever attend mass, lest it somehow offend the Marci Hamiltons of the world that they hear these prayers? And what of liberal denominations that overtly praise abortion rights and gay marriage in their services, and read NYTs editorials from the pulpit (I am not kidding--I have seen it done)? Should we prohibit justices from attending those services?

Moving to her retread of Stone’s arguments, and his flaccid attempt disguise his musings as something other than anti-religious sentiment, I’ll leave those claims to Ed Whelan and Jan Crawford Greenburg and Rick Garnett, who have already thoroughly refuted them.

Finally, her claim that it would be good if the Catholic justices were transparent, in the spirit of President Kennedy, makes it clear that she hasn’t done her homework. Justice Scalia is constantly asked about his Catholicism and judging (a two-minute Lexis search will confirm this), and he frequently notes that his job is to uphold the Constitution. If upholding the Constitution at some point meant that he would have to disobey a binding moral teaching of the church--the example he gives is if imposing the death penalty were determined to be a sin--then he would resign, because he would not impose his religious views on the Constitution. I only wish that liberals on the Court who use the law as a vehicle to express their own, sometimes religiously-held policy preferences, would be so transparent.

Oh, and before Marci Hamilton and Geoff Stone dismiss my statements here as mere marching orders from the Pope, I should add that I am not a Catholic.

Discussions - 8 Comments

I thought Kennedy would have brought an end to the religious test to America's politics.

But, it appears, this isn't a religious test, but an abortion test.

The right to kill an unborn human is held sacred by many and it demonstrates the true evil that each of us have inside us.

I only wish that liberals on the Court who use the law as a vehicle to express their own, sometimes religiously-held policy preferences, would be so transparent.



And you call Hamilton's complaints "tired"?

Why are conservatives obsessed with the fetus?

I presume that Interested is talking about Marci Hamilton and Stone (who are not conservative), given that they were the ones that were so obsessed by the outcome of the partial-birth abortion case that they falsely ascribed the decision to religion.

The more appropriate question is why liberals are soo obsessed with abortion to the point that are willing to allow an unborn to be killed just because the head was not out of the womb, while the rest of the body was.

Why hang your hat on this issue, especially when your supposed outlook on life is to protect the weak against the powerful?

HMMMMMMM ....?

OK, I've had it with the ridiculous liberal complaint about avoiding not only the reality but the "appearance of impropriety." Hamilton raises this canard in her silly blog, but worse, the whole federal govt. ethics structure is rooted in this same nonsense. "Appearance of impropriety" to whom? Not to Catholics, in her case. No, it's always to liberals; anything liberals don't like doesn't have to be illegal or immoral. It just has to "appear improper" to liberals (e.g., the Washington Post).


Do they recognize that this is exactly what Joe McCarthy was accused of doing? Liberals then complained that it was not enough for Joe to just point out that some official had an unspecified relationship with a Communist organization. They complained that he had to prove that the official actually was or became a Communist. Accusations based on "appearance of impropriety" are "smears." They became known precisely as "McCarthyism."


For the last few decades, ironically, liberals have practiced "McCarthyism" far beyond anything tail-gunner Joe could have imagined doing. Liberals have become America's greatest practitioners of the unjust smear that a conservative or patriot who does something that "appears bad" to a liberal should be driven out of office even though he has violated no law. It is past time for patriots to brand them for what they have become: neo-McCarthyites.

You pose a very good point Mr. Alt, This is a very good article that has good influence. That's about all I know. Good article though!

Why are the Conservatives obsessed with the Fetus?? Is it their business about the fetus? In my opinion they are just wierd liberal freaks! I am fed up with all of this!

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