I commented back on August 10th about the rather obvious anti-Catholic bigotry coming from some opposed to the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court.
Now, comes this article from today’s Washington Post about the role religion is likely to play in his upcoming confirmation hearings.
The degree to which Roberts’s religious beliefs may inform his judicial philosophy could be a significant line of questioning, especially given that Roberts is replacing Sandra Day O’Connor, a key vote on many contentious social issues. Conservatives distrusted O’Connor for the same reason that liberals are sorry to see her go: She supported abortion rights and took moderate stances on other social causes, including voting to strike down Texas’s sodomy law, a 2003 case that was a turning point for gay rights.
Judiciary members who have expressed curiosity about Roberts’s religious views include Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), a liberal and a Catholic, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), one of the panel’s most conservative members. Coburn queried Roberts privately about how his faith influences his work and ran into resistance. “He said, ‘I’m very uncomfortable talking about that,’ ” Coburn told reporters, adding he intended to raise the issue again.
An appropriate response also would have been “None of your f***ing business Senator.”
Now that Roberts is being nominated to replace Rehnquist instead of O’Connor, I believe that this “line of questioning” will become a more prevalent part of the media coverage. Leftist interest groups will demand to know if he agrees with church teaching on abortion, homosexuality, the death penalty and a wide variety of other issues. His refusal to provide a definitive answer will be used against him.
In the end, I believe that Roberts will be confirmed but now that the stakes are higher, its going to be a much tougher fight.