Uh-oh -- we're haters again.
I learned this from a New York Post op-ed by George Marlin entitled "Roberts Critics' Agenda of Hate." (Registration required, and I can't really say it's worth the bother; excerpts are available here.)
Marlin's argument is, typically, McCarthyite/Kafkaesque: We liberals hate John Roberts because of his religion, the evidence of our hate being the fact that nothing we've said about Roberts has mentioned his religion in any way, shape, or form:
John Roberts is a Catholic and, by all accounts, a pretty serious one. That doesn't go down too well with certain liberal interest groups and their political allies on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- who are insinuating that Roberts' Catholicism renders him unfit for the Supreme Court.
They won't come right out and say it, of course. Instead, they say nominees with "strongly held personal values" can't reach objective judgments in cases that may arise before them. Yet phrases like "strongly held personal values" are simply prejudicial code words.
The only concrete example of apparent liberal Catholic-hate Marlin can offer is in the case of another Bush judicial nominee:
In 2003, for instance, Sen. Charles Schumer ignored the Constitution's Article 6 ("no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States") in questioning the suitability of a Bush appeals-court nominee, Alabama Attorney General William Pryor. Because Pryor adheres to the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church, Schumer complained that "his beliefs are so well known, so deeply held, that it's very hard -- very hard to believe -- they're not going to deeply influence the way he comes about saying, 'I will follow the law.' "
The Right loves this Schumer quote -- though when you read it in context, surprise surprise, it turns out Schumer wasn't talking about Pryor's Catholicism at all:
It's just not enough to say "I will follow the law." Every nominee says that.... I don't like nominees too far left or too far right, because ideologues tend to want to make law, not do what the Founding Fathers said judges should do, interpret the law. And in General Pryor's case, his beliefs are so well known, so deeply held that it's very hard to believe, very hard to believe that they're not going to deeply influence the way he comes about saying, "I will follow the law."
As far as I know, only one public figure has actually engaged in anything resembling Catholic-bashing with regard to Roberts, and he'll get a free pass for it from the Right. I'm referring to Christopher Hitchens, writing in yesterday's Slate:
If Roberts is confirmed there will be quite a bloc of Catholics on the court. Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas are strong in the faith. Is it kosher to mention these things? The Constitution rightly forbids any religious test for public office, but what happens when a religious affiliation conflicts with a judge's oath to uphold the Constitution?
Yeah, them damn papists -- why'd we ever let them vote in the first place?
Yes, folks, this is the same Christopher Hitchens who once declared that George W. Bush "may subjectively be a Christian, but he -- and the U.S. armed forces -- have objectively done more for secularism than the whole of the American agnostic community combined and doubled." This is the same Hitchens who shrugs off his good pal Ahmed Chalabi's ties to the mullahs of Iran ("As for Iran, it is the most significant of Iraq's neighbors, and no aspiring politician can avoid the responsibility of conducting relations with it.... If any Iraqi is 'brokering' relations with Iran, I hope it's Chalabi") -- ties just reaffirmed today ("The spokesman for Iraqi National Congress (INC), led by Ahmad Chalabi, said here Monday that Iran plays an important role in fostering peace and stability in Iraq").
Hitchens claims to loathe religion across the board, but the religion that really seems to stick in his craw -- his well-schooled, British craw -- is Catholicism. Imagine my surprise.
Me, I just object to the imposition of religious dogma -- of whatever kind -- on the unwilling. That's why I can't endorse Hitchens's criticism of Roberts. Roberts isn't a threat to my liberties because he's a Catholic -- he's a threat to my liberties because, to at least some extent, he's a Republicofundamentalist, an adherent of a belief system that's far more a strategy for political dominance than a religious faith. The same goes for Scalia and Thomas.
(INC link via Juan Cole.)