August 10, 2005

Boston Globe Supports Religious Test for Judges

The Boston Globe is advocating a religious test for judicial nominations:

IN THE presidential campaign, a new threshold in church-state relations was crossed when Catholic bishops threatened to exclude Senator John Kerry from the Eucharist because of his support for Roe v. Wade. The Senate Judiciary Committee is now fully justified in asking these bishops whether the same threats would apply to Supreme Court nominee Judge Roberts, if he were to vote to uphold Roe v. Wade.The bishops have made this question legitimate because Americans no longer know whether a Catholic judge can hear abortion cases without an automatic conflict of interest. When judges may derive a financial gain from the outcome of a case before them, they must disqualify themselves; this requirement should be even more urgent when the gain in question is full Communion and the promise of eternal life. According to the American Bar Association's Code of Conduct for United States Judges, Canon 3, Section C 1 (c), a judge must disqualify himself when he has ''a financial interest . . . or any other interest that could be affected substantially by the outcome of the proceeding." Maintaining one's membership in the church and the prospect of eternal life surely count as such an interest....Asking the bishops to testify would be healthy. If they rescinded the threats made against Kerry, then Roberts would feel free to make his decision without the appearance of a conflict of interest, and Catholic politicians who support Roe v. Wade would gain renewed confidence in their advocacy. If the bishops repeated or confirmed their threats, the Senate Judiciary Committee should draft legislation calling for the automatic recusal of Catholic judges from cases citing Roe v. Wade as a precedent.

The Boston Globe should mandate that their entire editorial staff re-take 6th grade civics class. A refresher course on the United States Constitution is clearly in order. Any first year law student could tell you that it is unconstitutional to make a nominee's religion a factor in determining whether or not to confirm that nominee. Article VI of the U.S. Constitution provides, in pertinent part, that, "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. Moreover, the Boston Globe's suggestion that the Bishops become involved in the confirmation hearings would, in my opinion, violate the First Amendment's requirement of the separation of church and state.

The editorial is transparently attempting to "right a wrong" that the editors feel was done to John Kerry during the last presidential election by the Catholic bishops. In the process of doing so, however, the Boston Globe has cast suspicion on all Catholic politicians and judicial nominees by alleging that these Catholics will be unable to avoid doing the Catholic Church's bidding. By doing so, they have done a great disservice to Catholics. It is incredibly irresponsible of the Boston Globe.
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