COMMENTARY: Critics of Supreme Court should focus on politics, not religion

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In what may be a landmark religious freedom case, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering business owners' efforts to avoid the Obamacare mandate to provide insurance coverage for birth control methods they consider abortifacient.

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In what may be a landmark religious freedom case, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering business owners' efforts to avoid the Obamacare mandate to provide insurance coverage for birth control methods they consider abortifacient.

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(RNS) Even to the most secular of liberals, six Catholics on the Supreme Court would not be a problem, so long as they were six Catholics like Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

  • Lles Nats

    There is no seperation of politics from religion, or from a secular worldview. People will vote (politic) according to their worldview. So the fundamental media message that you’ve been fed for generations is wrong. People will always vote according to their beliefs.

    If we were smart (we are not), we would just face this less that ideal truth and seperate into regional tribes according to ideology. The whole mixing thing IS the cause if strife.

  • Alexander Griswold

    Imagine that three of the conservative justices were observant Jews, rather than Catholics. Would the Huntington Post ever seriously consider running an article asking: “Should there be six Jews on the Supreme Court?”

    This is anti-Catholic bigotry, pure and simple. And this is coming from a Protestant.

  • gilhcan

    When the five-member, Catholic majority of the Supreme Court puts out decisions that are consistently, single-mindedly, conforming with their super-conservative religious background–in spite of Antonin Scalia’s hypocritical claim to have no concern for any other system of law or order–then it is not only legitimate, but proper, to expose the religious distortions of their rulings, their religious distortions of the very Constitution it is their sole job to uphold.

    Hobby Lobby was purely and simply a ruling that contradicted the first clause of the First Amendment of our Constitution.

    What about the Catholic Court’s consistent allowance of states to water down the previous Roe vs Wade decision by allowing those states and groups opposing abortion an expanded latitude in violating that division?

    What about the allowance of prayer, even clear denominational prayers, at government meetings? The Court’s Greece, NY, decision did that.

    What about the flipping and flopping regarding the posting of the religious “Ten Commandments” in public places?

    The list goes on and on, and Republican presidents like Reagan and the Bushes recognized they would obtain religious prejudice that matched their extreme political prejudice in their nominations of Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito.

    As long as religious violations persist in government activities, that government is a religion, not a democracy, and there is a demand that we persist in exposing it with steady and strong criticism.

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor is very wrongly included in the collection of photos of those who defile our Constitution by allowing their religious prejudice to play any part in the formation of their decisions. She has never participated in the outrageous errors of the other five. She has always properly, constitutionally maintained a clear separation between her religion and her official duties just as our Constitution demands a separation of church and state.

    Strong questions should be raised about considering Clarence Thomas as a Catholic though he certainly, consistently echoes his obvious mentor, Antonin Scalia. When Thomas was nominated and approved for the Court, he was an Episcopalian because of his invalid marriage to his second wife Virginia–who has since invalidly used her position in support of super-conservative causes. Thomas’ enhanced position as a justice of SCOTUS enabled him to have his Episcopalian marriage regularized as a Catholic marriage–proving it is who you know in big operations that matter. This is also the man who prefers his martinis in glasses with pubic hairs on them.

    It is vitally important to recognize that the three Jews, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan, and the truly honorable Catholic Sotomayor, form the properly acting minority against the consistently improperly acting Catholic majority. Yes, attention to religion must be included in criticism of this Court because the Catholic majority of the Court operates as Catholics and includes religion in its decisions, just as it includes super-conservative politics, so obviously in its decisions.

  • gilhcan

    Lies Nats: The first clause of the First Amendment to our Constitution, amendments about the rights of citizens, expressly states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

    That is a constraint on our government, which includes the third branch, the Supreme Court. It is no constraint on the voting of any citizens at any time.

    A strong influence in our very real separation into “tribes,” which are somewhat regional, is definitely the ideology of religion as much as it is the ideology of politics. That is the right of the people, the voters. It is also the self-destruction of union. It is sad because it is dangerous when people cannot see the very real horrors of history when religion and government, church and state were mixed.

    That cannot be avoided, not even in a democracy, when people vote ignorantly, foolishly, or do not vote at all. However, government can and should be prevented from acting on a basis that mingles religion and government, church and state. As long as we have a Supreme Court with life-termed justices, that ignores and approves such constitutional violations and our legislature and executive do not develop appropriate laws that cannot be declared violations, we are doomed to the results of such dangerous violation. That is extinction. We will cease attaining what we have never yet been, a true democracy.

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  • As the government gets bigger, it is harder for it not to bump into conflicts with the First Amendment. It is impossible, with the current size of government, not to force the Supreme Court choose between supporting either the establishment clause or the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.

  • The Great God Pan

    “Devout Catholics and Protestants no longer view each other as enemies.”

    After they win, they will go back to fighting each other. They won’t be able to share power (the phrase “Philadelphia Bible Riots” comes to mind). That’s the small consolation I take in seeing them transform America into a right-wing theocracy.

  • Atheist Max

    Tom Deignan,

    “…when the court’s critics make an issue out of all those Catholic justices, they do the same thing they claim the justices do: Pay far too much attention to religion.”


    Religion is nonsense and that is exactly the issue. To force the entire country to respect the whims of an invisible air pocket is to throw away the rights of men in favor of the AIR POCKET!

    Does this country NOT have ENOUGH problems to solve without these crusaders adding the needs of an AIR POCKET to national concerns?

    The court is a clutch of ignorant, witch burning hysterics.

    Shame on the USA.

  • Lles Nats

    Agreed. The wouldn’t dare criticize a jew.

  • Lles Nats

    Whatever. We are a pick and choose country and society. We pick and choose which parts of the constitution we want to follow according to our needs and bias. Its a meaningless document now. Keep pretending we follow it to bolster any arguement you like, or don’t like. To speak of it as authoritative in current life sorta like speaking to a brick wall. It makes no difference on what actually ends up happening.

  • Lles Nats

    But billions of years ago, the air pocket exploded…max. And that is where you came from.

  • Larry

    “What about the Catholic Court’s consistent allowance of states to water down the previous Roe vs Wade decision by allowing those states and groups opposing abortion an expanded latitude in violating that division?”

    Um…that was from Casey v. Planned Parenthood in 1992 which gave the states the ability to dilute abortion rights. The Court had a much different demographic back then. Not much has reached the Supreme Court on the subject since then.

    SCOTUS in the last 30 years has been pretty bad with 1st Amendment religious freedom. Most of the times they used to just punt those issues and either dismiss them on technical charges or decline hearing them.

    In all fairness, Kennedy is the odd duck among the conservative wing. He is a corporatist but not really a social conservative like Scalia, Alito, Roberts or Thomas. His opinions are the reason marriage equality has become a viable thing politically in this country.

  • Larry

    Not really. Too many people think the free exercise clause stands for something it does not.

    It was never a license to disobey laws of general application. It was never license to deliberately harm others.

    As for the establishment clause, the problem comes with trying to make too many exceptions and carve outs for it based on rather spurious arguments but a clear intended result.

  • Atheist Max

    Prove it.
    Or stop claiming it.

  • Atheist Max


    If it is not bigoted to approach a non believer and recommend Catholicism
    It cannot be bigoted to approach a Catholic and recommend psychiatric evaluation.

    Christianity, like all religion, is a disgrace to humanity.
    Shame on you.

  • Fran

    Religion should steer completely clear of politics but many times gets completely involved with it, which will only result to its detriment.

    Jesus did not get involved with politics (John 6:15), nor did his followers, as he preached the “good news of God’s kingdom” as the only hope for mankind (Matthew 7:14). Christians should make the same stand for God’s kingdom today.

  • John

    It is sort of strange that in a nation as diverse as ours with many different religions and many non-religious that so many of our very top justices just happen to be Catholic or Jewish. Not a single protestant. Not a single humanist. Not a single person from hundreds of other traditions represented by millions of Americans. Just Catholics and Jewish orientations. It raises a question of how could this happen if the best of the best are selected for these positions from a diverse and talented population of judges and attorneys. Also it is very interesting how Christian Catholicism makes exclusive religious claims (for example that Jesus is the Messiah) that are denied by official Jewish theological positions and the two orientations are somewhat antagonistic toward one another and it just happens that the Jews and the Catholics on the court of usually on opposite sides of the issue. Very curious indeed how religion plays a role here. Specifically the influence of Catholicism and Judaism.

  • John

    Freedom of religion and the restraint of the federal government to restrict religious practice and expression is a core fundamental American Constitutional value. You may not agree with it, but that is not relevant. It is there embedded deeply into our US Constitution. There are millions of religious people in the United States and they have the Constitutional right to practice their faith.

  • Larry

    And owing to the sin of omission, you fail to mention that the only way in which free exercise of religion CAN be protected is through the establishment clause. The separation of church and state protects both.

    There is nothing more dishonest than describing 1st Amendment religious freedoms only in terms of Free Exercise but omitting the Establishment clause. People who have no appreciation for religious freedom beyond what their own sect can get away with tend to do that.

  • gilhcan

    And this Catholic Supreme Court–that does not include Justice Sonia Sotomayor–ought to concentrate on the Constitution and totally avoid both politics and religion.

  • gilhcan

    John: The weakness of that argument is that it is possible to be Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or a non-believer and properly determine when and if our laws conflict with our Constitution. That is the purpose of the Supreme Court, of all federal courts.

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor is a Catholic but absolutely does not allow any politics or religion to determine her decisions. Sotomayor is proof, along with the three Jews, that you can be religious and humanist. In fact, the Christian West has a great tradition of humanism in its history. Numerous Jews and Catholics today are also humanists. It is not at all necessary that subscribing to one excludes the other.

  • Liz Levesque

    Wow. It sure is all out war on Christianity in America. And Catholics in particular.

  • Liz Levesque

    Where do people think law and morality come from? Geesh.