Progressive Inquisitors

In another case, not quite as clear cut but raising similar issues: Should opposition to marriage equality and a belief that Obama’s bathroom order was an unnecessary overreach of authority disqualify a candidate from leading NASA?

And another:

As someone commented on another forum, “these people [the hold the views that Obama and Clinton held until 4-5 years ago, and that was Michigan law until Obergefell. And, “could a city council that supports the Second Amendment exclude a farmer who bans guns on his farm?”

Scott Shackford blogged about this in June, when East Lansing denied the owners of County Mills Farms access to the farmer’s market. He noted that (1) the farm itself is not within city limits, (2) state law does not cover discrimination on basis of sexual orientation, (3) the farm itself is not violating any laws by refusing to host same-sex marriage, (4) there is no evidence that when they’re at the farmer’s market, they’re violating the city’s antidiscrimination laws in any way.

2 Comments for “Progressive Inquisitors”

  1. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    em>”But for some progressives, it isn’t enough to have won most of the cultural and policy battles of the past several decades. Even the remnants of the other side, in people’s minds and consciences, must submit to maximalist progressive claims.”

    The key words being “some” and “progressives”, qualifiers that tends to go missing from time to time on IGF when Stephen pulls his broad brush out of his underalls.

    It seems to me, though, that the questions of Senator Durban and Feinstein were legitimate questions, because the questions are the same questions, focused differently, asked by Alford/Finnis/Barrett in the 1998 Marquette Law Review article (“Catholic Judges in Capital Cases” (1998)) cited in Ahmarisept’s NYT opinion piece.

    The Marquette article is as good an exposition of the conflicts between the obligations imposed on a judge under the law and the judges personal/religious convictions (in this case, a judge’s Catholic faith and the obligation of all Catholics to shun “cooperation with evil”) and how to handle those conflicts.

    The Marquette article concludes, rightly, that when a judge’s religious convictions conflict with a decision mandated by the law, then the judge should recuse. As the penultimate sentence says, flatly, “Judges cannot-nor should they try to-align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge.”

    What is true of capital punishment is true, of course, of other issues — abortion, same-sex marriage, and so on — and what is true of Catholic judges is true of other religious adherents who are judges and of any judge with strong personal convictions about this, that or the other.

    I suspect that the issue is more obvious — stark, to be blunt — in the case of Catholics because the Church, acting through its Bishops, has a history of shunning Catholic politicians (e.g. refusing to allow them to speak in forums hosted in Catholic schools and, occasionally, threatening excommunication, as one Bishop did in the case of Justice Kennedy after Obergefell) who do not adhere to Catholic moral teaching when taking public positions on political/legal matters.

    Durbin and Feinstein weren’t the only Senators, by the way, to raise the question. Senator Cruz, for example, said this in the hearing: ““I’ve read some of what you’ve written on Catholic judges and in capital cases and, in particular, as I understand it, you argued that Catholic judges are morally precluded from enforcing the death penalty . . . please explain your views on that because that obviously is of relevance to the job for which you have been nominated.”

    It seems to me that questioning Barrett about her impartiality under these circumstances was legitimate. Catholic judicial nominees, particularly those who have given clear indication that their religious convictions/obligations might conflict with their judicial duties, should answer questions about judicial impartiality and how they will handle conflicts between personal conviction and judicial obligation.

    And, despite the suggestions made in Ahmarispet’s NYT opinion piece to the contrary, I do not read Senator Feinstein’s comment as suggesting that Catholics are disqualified for judicial office, but instead a question of concern about a particular nominee:

    “Dogma and law are two different things,” she said. “And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.”

    Emphasis mine.

  2. posted by JohnInCA on

    I’m reminded of (former) Judge Moore of Alabama’s Supreme Court. Perhaps if someone had asked him a few more pointed questions about inserting his religion into his decisions he wouldn’t have been removed from the court twice.

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