Rick Garnett on Catholic Justices:

Rick responds to Geof Stone's comment.

And Stone backpedals and says "The point of my post was to pose the question and to invite people to think about it."

4.27.2007 6:23pm
frank petrilli (mail):
In all honesty, I think that Stone makes some decent points, and that Garnett's response accomplishes relatively little by way of a rebuttal. Saying that moral reactions to abortion are analogous to those about racial equality, and therefore subject to evaluation outside of a religious framework doesn't seem to do much work in explaining the peculiarity of the majority lineup.

Of course I don't know what it means, if anything, but I think it's an interesting phenomenon to draw attention to. I don't see why that's 'weak,' much less disingenuous for Stone to 'admit' to posing the question and invite people to think about it.
4.27.2007 11:20pm
Visitor Again:
There is nothing untoward in Stone pointing to the coincidence of religion and vote on the abortion case.
Nor is it in any way unusual that he would seek to expand on his original comment, particularly since that comment drew so much attention. There is nothing in his explanation that constitutes backpedaling, nothing in it that is weak.

Judges are the products of their life experiences, just like everyone else. There seems to be some resistance to the notion that exploring the influence of religion is a proper subject for discussion, even though religion controlling governmental decisions, whether legislative, executive or judicial, has been a continuing concern in the U.S.A. Perhaps this resistance to discussion ties in with the increasing efforts of certain Christian sects to influence government policy and to occupy governmental policy-making positions, efforts which have had marked success during the Bush Administration. See, for example, the recent news stories on Pat Robertson's Regent Law School, of which Monica Gooding is a graduate.
4.28.2007 1:18am
Dennis Murashko (mail):
The question of how, if at all, a Justice's religion influences his opinions touches on the topic of law and morality. The topic, incidentally, was the focal point of this year's Federalist Society student symposium, hosted by Northwestern University School of Law. Happily for all who could not attend, the symposium proceedings have been posted online (audio only, for now) at this link:

I invite any VC reader interested in learning more about the question at the center of the Garnett-Stone debate to listen to Judge Pryor's keynote address. Pryor discusses at some length the effect of his Catholic faith on his public service (both as Alabama AG during the Roy Moore affair and as a federal judge). Listen to the whole thing. It's worth it.
4.28.2007 3:40am
In Johnson v. Eisentrager the Court held that the word "person" as used in the Bill of Rights lacks "extraterritorial application", and in Roe the Court held it lacked "prenatal application."

If believing that respect for human life applies prenatally is "religious" rather than "moral", why isn't believing that respect for human life applies extraterritorially "religious" rather than "moral". If the proper limits of morality are coterminous with the definition of "person" as used in the Bill of Rights, the one is every bit as much outside that definition as the other. Why aren't we hearing protests that concerns for enemy combatants and detainees represent an improper intrusion of religious belief into politics? If one is proper, the other must be as well.
4.29.2007 3:03am
Owen Hutchins (mail):
How things have changed. 45 years ago, Kennedy was looked at as being tied to a foreign power. During the last Presidential campaign, many (even non-Catholics) were saying that Kerry wasn't "Catholic enough", because of his stand on abortion rights. I wonder what would be said if Catholic judges refused to impose the death penalty?
4.29.2007 9:16am