Ignoring the Constitution ... Again
"A candidate's or nominee's ideology should be fair game whether it's religious or secular in nature, whether it's rooted in conservative Catholicism or liberal feminism."
So says Boston Globe columnist Cathy Young in "Why Roberts Religion Matters".
Senator Dick Durbin will be relieved to hear that. According to the L.A. Times, during a meeting with Judge John Roberts the Senator inquired about the potential conflict between Roberts' beliefs as a Catholic and the law, specifically regarding the death penalty or the murder of unborn children.
Apparently Young and Durbin are not very well acquainted with that bedrock of American government, the U.S. Constitution. (That or they're counting on the liberal courts to make some more changes to what the founders really meant.)
Let's see what those vaunted "dead, white guys" had to say about one's "religious ideology" being "fair game," shall we.
Article VI, Clause 3: "...all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
To paraphrase, "no religious test required as a qualification for judges EVER." Looks pretty clear to me. But not so to Ms. Young. Seems she understands the Constitution differently than it's been read for over 200 years. "The context makes it fairly clear what the original intent of this clause was. An officeholder could not be required to take an oath or perform a religious ritual affirming his allegiance to a particular religion or denomination, or even a general belief in God."
I don't think so, sister. Let's look at it again. "...shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification..." The two clauses are clearly distinct and separate. Judges SHALL be bound by oath or affirmation BUT
NO religious test shall EVER be required.
"No religious test" doesn't mean a nominee or candidate shouldn't be discriminated against if they happen to be Jewish or Catholic (though they shouldn't.) It does forbid questioning a candidate about their beliefs that derive from their particualr faith. And yes, that makes questions that amount to an "abortion litmus test" (or gay rights) unconstitutional.
According to Manuel Miranda, writing in the Wall Street Journal, "Requiring an oath or affirmation in taking public office was the Framers' nod to God, the requirement that no particular set of religious beliefs be required of office holders was their nod to their painful experience with the religious intolerance of England."
Why was such protection necessary? Because England had passed two Test Acts which, while not specifically excluding Catholics from office, sought to bar anyone who believed in the fundamental Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.
Young says, "The question is whether a jurist's or politician's religion should play a role in his or her views on law and policy."
No, it isn't. The question is whether our legislators will hold themselves to the clear intent of the Constitution.