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October 7, 2005
Dionne Notes Chickens Coming Home To Roost

Earlier, I warned about the approach taken by some conservatives to rely so publicly on the evangelicalism of Harriet Miers could create a political environment that we will later rue legitimizing. E.J. Dionne notices my post and picks up on the contrariness of Republican objections to their righteous anger at Democratic criticisms of appointees based on their "deeply held personal beliefs" and their push to note Miers' dedication to her religion now:

Shortly after Bush named John Roberts to the Supreme Court, a few Democrats, including Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), suggested that the nominee might reasonably be questioned about the impact of his religious faith on his decisions as a justice.

Durbin had his head taken off. "We have no religious tests for public office in this country," thundered Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), insisting that any inquiry about a potential judge's religious views was "offensive." Fidelis, a conservative Catholic group, declared that "Roberts' religious faith and how he lives that faith as an individual has no bearing and no place in the confirmation process."

But now that Harriet Miers, Bush's latest Supreme Court nominee, is in trouble with conservatives, her religious faith and how she lives that faith are becoming central to the case being made for her by the administration and its supporters. Miers has almost no public record. Don't worry, the administration's allies are telling their friends on the right, she's an evangelical Christian.

When members of the Democratic caucus used religion, disguising it as they did, to filibuster people like John Roberts and Janice Rogers Brown for their staunch Catholocism, everyone knew it -- and we Republicans rightly called them out for conducting religious tests for office. Well, religious tests work both ways. One cannot eat their cake and have it too on questions of faith as prerequisites for office. Either it's off limits and no one uses religious affiliations to deny or promote candidates, or we start having open wars over the nature and truth of religion on every candidate sent for Senatorial confirmation.

Do we really want to use Congress for this kind of debate? No; it will take an already divisive process and start the kind of debilitating social stress that the Founders wanted to avoid in Article VI, Clause 3 of the Constitution. Congress does not exist to pursue the True Religion or the Meaning of Creation; it exists to provide rules of law that the Executive enforces and that the Judiciary considers when ruling on cases brought before it.

If Miers' evangelicalism remains the top selling point of her nomination, then I submit that the White House has already lost this battle. They need to stop promoting religion as a legitimate point of consideration on Miers' curriculum vitae, or else conservative nominations will face nothing less than an Inquisition on every confirmation -- an Inquisition endorsed by the foolishness of short-sighted conservatives.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 7, 2005 7:28 AM

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» Disagreeing With Ed And Betsy from Cheat-Seeking Missiles
Capt. Ed and Betsy agree with E.J. Dionne, Jr. that one can't chastise Dems for questioning Roberts' faith, then assure conservatives that Miers is OK because she's a conservative Christian. Intimidating as the company is, Dionne excepted, I beg to ... [Read More]

Tracked on October 7, 2005 9:45 AM

» Fly By 10/07/05 from The Strata-Sphere
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Tracked on October 7, 2005 10:37 AM

» Damn Christians from reverse_vampyr
More grist for the mill. If she doesn't drool at the thought of disembowling fetuses, we just can't have her on the bench. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Harriet Miers is a good candidate for the Supreme Court vacancy left by Sandra Day O... [Read More]

Tracked on October 7, 2005 1:28 PM

» “Faith-Based Hypocrisy” from The Unalienable Right
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Tracked on October 7, 2005 5:54 PM

» The Faith Card from
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Tracked on October 7, 2005 6:07 PM

» Religion and politics. from Antisemantics
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Tracked on October 7, 2005 9:21 PM

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» Is Miers Nomination Becoming A Religious Test? Forsooth! from Opinion Times
Much of the current discussion in support of the Harriet Miers nomination is aiming at establishing lagging support among the Republican, conservative base. To do so, the Bush Administration and its spokesmen are pointing to her Christian faith as a ... [Read More]

Tracked on October 8, 2005 12:05 AM

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Tracked on October 8, 2005 7:33 PM

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