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Does it matter that 5 Supreme Court justices are Catholic?

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There's a growing brouhaha over the fact that some commentators have noted that 5 of the 9 US Supreme Court justices are Catholic, and all 5 sided against a woman's right to choose in their latest decision released last week.

"All five justices in the majority in Gonzales are Catholic," wrote Geoffrey Stone, now a professor at the [University of Chicago] law school, in a faculty blog. "The four justices who either are Protestant or Jewish all voted in accord with settled precedent. It is mortifying to have to point this out. But it is too obvious, and too telling to ignore."
Catholic advocacy groups (I suspect conservative ones), and conservative shock jocks like Laura Ingraham, are outraged, though it's not exactly clear about what. They claim that such observations - namely, that one's faith may influence one's decisions in life and on the job, bigoted. They're also upset with Rosie O'Donnell (though this tends to be simply because she's a lesbian and a Democrat - conservatives don't think lesbians, nor Democrats, should be permitted in public life):
You know what concerns me?" O'Donnell asked last week on ABC's "The View." "How many Supreme Court judges are Catholic?"

"Five," said host Barbara Walters.

"Five," O'Donnell said. "How about separation of church and state in America?"

Walters counseled against drawing conclusions, saying, "We cannot assume that they did it because they're Catholic."

But O'Donnell had more to say.

"If men could get pregnant," O'Donnell said, "abortion would be a sacrament."
And here is how shock jock Laura Ingraham responded:
"'The View's' Rosie O'Donnell continues on her tear down the path of the Rich and Unhinged, this time with an anti-Catholic rant against the Supreme Court," Ingraham wrote on her Web site. "Could she ever get away with denigrating the Muslim faith this way?"
Well, first off, conservatives denigrate Islam every single day and still have their jobs - from the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention who called Muhammad a "demon-possessed pedophile," to Franklin Graham who called Islam evil, to conservative CNN hosts who have labeled all Muslim-Americans as terrorists. So Ingraham should spare us the crocodile tears about how Muslims get away with everything. They're attacked left and right by Ingraham's buddies every single day, with impunity.

But getting to Ingraham's larger point, that mentioning the separation of church and state, and the issue as to whether one's Catholic faith influences a judge's decision, is "bigotry," how so? What exactly about that point is bigoted? Clearly standing up for the doctrine of the separation of church and state isn't bigoted. Then Ingraham must mean that it is ludicrous to suggest that a Catholic, or any judge of faith, would let their faith influence their court decisions. I think it's ludicrous to suggest otherwise, and actually rather religion-phobic to boot. Is Ingraham suggesting that Christians somehow check their morality at the door when they get on the job? That we won't murder, covet our neighbor's wife, cheat or steal at home, but on the job we'll do it because, you know, we check our religion-based morality at the door from 9-5? That's absurd. And it also has a deny-me-three-times quality to it. Yet that is exactly what the Catholic activists are now claiming - that their faith would never influence any decisions they'd make in their lives. Huh?
"The Supreme Court did not 'follow marching orders' from the Vatican or the bishops in the United States," [James] Cella [president of the Catholic-based organization Fidelis] said. "Instead, the court deferred to deliberative judgment of the people's elected representatives protected by the Constitution."
Again, that's absurd. And we know it's absurd because the religious right and conservative Catholics have been trying to get their people in positions of power for years. Why? Because of their SAT scores or because of their faith? Uh, duh. Of course conservative Christians want their own people in positions of power. They believe - they KNOW - that their religious beliefs form the basis of their morality, and their morality forms the basis of their daily actions and decisions on the job. Yet now they'd have us believe that it's simply not true.

And to revisit the quote above about no one taking marching orders from the Vatican or the American bishops. Then why do the Vatican and the American bishops GIVE such marching orders to American politicians and the voting public, if no one is expected to follow them, and if such marching orders are somehow bigoted? Catholic leaders have told their followers how to vote based on their religion:
Galvanized by battles against same-sex marriage and stem cell research and alarmed at the prospect of a President Kerry - who is Catholic but supports abortion rights - these bishops and like-minded Catholic groups are blanketing churches with guides identifying abortion, gay marriage and the stem cell debate as among a handful of "non-negotiable issues."
Or this:
In an interview in his residence here, Archbishop Chaput said a vote for a candidate like Mr. Kerry who supports abortion rights or embryonic stem cell research would be a sin that must be confessed before receiving Communion.

"If you vote this way, are you cooperating in evil?" he asked. "And if you know you are cooperating in evil, should you go to confession? The answer is yes."
Yes, no marching orders from that Catholic bishop. Then there was the time that the American Catholic bishops said that presidential candidate John Kerry couldn't receive communion:
This spring, a handful of bishops, including Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, proclaimed that Catholic presidential candidate John Kerry should not present himself for Communion because his public votes defy the core teachings of his church. Kerry is an adamantly pro-choice Democrat who says he personally opposes abortion.
Yes, no attempt to influence politics there.

Far-right conservatives can't have it both ways. They can't demand that their elected and appointed officials obey church doctrine on the job, then turn around and call anyone a bigot who notes that those elected and appointed officials are obeying church doctrine on the job. And let's not forget that the entire basis of the religious right in America, and conservatives generally, is a world-view based on the Bible AND a political view that demands that Biblical norms be enacted in legislation. The first thing that comes out of their mouths when debating civil rights legislation for gays and lesbians is God. Yet, if we note that fact, we're the bigots.

So which one is it? Do far-right conservatives agree or disagree with the church, and religious right activists, telling our political and judicial leaders how to act on the job?

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