guess that she would disapprove of an unmarried man and woman
sharing a home, although -- Alice sighs resignedly -- that doesn't
diminish her affection for her son Jobie, who does exactly that.
tell us that Alice from time to time listens in on the radio to
a talk by Billy Graham? It might. But 54 percent of Protestant
Americans don't go regularly to Sunday services, and many can
go years without hearing the word of the Lord.
Can we guess
that Alice is a Republican? Certainly not: Many practicing Christians
are Democrats. So why would a constituent nudge a senator along
in favor of confirming Alice for a judicial opening? Because Christians
feel a little upbeat about fellow Christians. Jews feel so about
fellow Jews, and nobody doubts that Muslims feel so about fellow
on the matter of Harriet Miers' religious beliefs was taken to
hysterical lengths by New York Times columnist Thomas
Friedman. His device was a fancied item from the Iraq News Agency
making the acidulous point, through a (fictional) secular Sunni
judge, that here we are, in America, hearing political advisers
urge the confirmation of Harriet Miers by citing her Christianity.
on apoplectic resentment. "After two years of being lectured
to by U.S. diplomats in Baghdad about the need to separate 'mosque
from state' in the new Iraq," Friedman's story goes, this
Muslim official was "stunned when he heard President Bush
telling Republicans that one reason they should support Harriet
Miers for the U.S. Supreme Court was because of 'her religion.'"
was carried away. He quoted the sentiments of his Iraqi judge:
"How would you feel if you picked up your newspapers next
week and read that the president of Iraq justified the appointment
of an Iraqi Supreme Court justice by telling Iraqis: 'Don't pay
attention to his lack of legal expertise. Pay attention to the
fact that he is a Muslim fundamentalist and prays at a Saudi-funded
Wahhabi mosque.' Is that the Iraq you sent your sons to build
and to die for?"
first response would reflect the lesson in the Latin aphorism,
"Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi." What is permitted
to Jove is not permitted to your cow. That liberating injunction
rescues thought from paralogisms. "If you can love her, why
can't you love me?" "If John is worth $10 per hour,
why isn't Ronnie?"
to the Christian faith presupposes an attachment to equality.
Muslim fundamentalism does no such thing. A member of the Communist
Party would not be thought fit for the Supreme Court, and a Muslim
would have to make his case by renouncing what many Muslims kill
for, which is their interpretation of the sacred commission of
is now pursued because in 1989 she said that she believed in the
right to life, which means, presumably, that she does not believe
that Roe v. Wade was persuasively reasoned. Well, neither
did Justice Byron White nor Chief Justice William Rehnquist, both
of whom dissented in Roe v. Wade. Is there any evidence
that such a dissent contaminated their judgment when serving,
as they continued to do for years, as members of the court? Is
there the least suggestion that to have dissented from the reasoning
in Roe commits a new member to voting to reverse it?
and Ms. Miers will certainly make that point when she is questioned
in November. One worries about the quandary she is in -- an open
invitation to traduce her own thinking in order to gain favor.
That is cause for individual concern. There is reason to fear
for the community of critics who seem willing to believe that
a Christian justice will pursue Christian doctrine to the point
of ignoring the evolved thinking of the court.
offense is to think of all religions as "equal" in their
bearing on judicial conduct. The moment has not come, but it is
around the corner, when non-Muslims will reasonably demand to
have evidence that the Muslim faith can operate within boundaries
in which Christians and Jews (and many non-believers) live and
work without unconstitutional distraction.