Tuesday, April 22, 2003
A litmus test?: The Wall Street Journal's Brendan Minter outlines the Democrats' case against Bush's latest court of appeals nominee, James Leon Holmes.
Holmes, who received a "well qualified" rating from the liberal American Bar Association (once the "gold standard" according to Sen. Joseph Biden), has come under fire because of his personal views on subjects such as abortion, marriage, separation of church and state, etc.
Minter makes the case that Holmes is drawing all this fire because he is an orthodox Catholic -- a part of who he is that influences his views on everything. One would note that it's not an appeals court judge's job to apply his personal beliefs to the cases that come before him (or her), and the Democrats have presented no evidence that Holmes has in the past, or would in the future, ignore the law.
Minter argues that, contrary to the dictates of the Constitution, some Democrats are applying a religious test for judicial office. This is no surprise. The Democrats' hostility to anyone who is conservative and religious (like Bush?) started not with judicial nominations, but with cabinet picks. When John Ashcroft was nominated to the position of Attorney General, a position he had held at the state level, Ashcroft revealed (though he didn't name names) that several Senators had asked him about his faith.
Forty years ago, Democrats rightfully chastized some Republicans who questioned whether JFK's Catholicism made him unfit to be president. The more things change...
I'm sympathetic to Minter's argument, but I think there is an egg/chicken problem with the analysis. I tend to think that the Democrats' behavior looks like a religious test because the beliefs/views they oppose are common to evangelicals and orthodox Catholics (among others). So, by their blanket opposition to conservative thought, it has the effect of being a de facto religious test -- even though it isn't intended to be.