The Dogma Is Strong With This One
Is Senator Dianne Feinstein auditioning to take the job of James Earl Jones? She’s certainly doing her best to sound like Darth Vader in the Senate. The Daily Wire reports:
Despite the fact that the Constitution forbids a religious litmus test for judicial appointments, Senator Dianne Feinstein attacked University of Notre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic mother of seven children and a nominee for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, by accusing, “The dogma lives loudly within you.”
Feinstein said to Barrett, “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws, is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern. When you come to big issues, that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.” That seemed to be a loud hint referencing Feinstein’s fanatical devotion to Roe v. Wade.
As if to double down, “Senate minority whip Dick Durbin slammed Barrett’s use of the term ‘orthodox Catholic,’ which wasn’t surprising because Durbin himself is a Catholic who is no longer pro-life.”
Can Christians Serve As Judges in America?
In fact, as Barrett’s former law professor, Catholic University President John Garvey writes, abortion was not even the issue that raised these anti-Catholic hackles. Rather Barrett
was grilled on Wednesday by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee about an article she and I wrote together in 1998 when I was a law professor and she was my student. In that article we argued that the death penalty was immoral, as the Catholic Church teaches. … We went on to say that a Catholic judge who held that view might, in rare cases, have to recuse herself under 28 U.S.C. § 455. That is a federal statute that asks a federal judge to step aside when she has conscientious scruples that prevent her from deciding a case in conformity with the facts and the law.
In fact, even the current Catechism allows for the death penalty where it is necessary to protect society. But that’s not the issue here. What’s interesting is that Amy Barrett wrote that judges should not seek to impose sectarian religious beliefs on the law. They should recuse themselves. You’d think that would be music to the ears of the Senators who grilled Barrett.
But it wasn’t. Everyone knows what this is about: abortion. And these liberal Senators are smart enough to know that Catholic views on abortion aren’t matters of private dogma, but natural law. So Amy Barrett would not feel the need to recuse herself on cases related to abortion.
Pro-life pioneer Jerome Lejeune offered the last word on this subject. I noted last year:
The great medical researcher Dr. Jerome Lejeune once said that if the Catholic Church embraced abortion, he would leave the Catholic Church. And he was right. We know, in the cold light of reason, that unborn children are human and that they’re alive. Any church that told us otherwise would earn our absolute contempt.
That’s not private dogma. It’s natural law. That’s really the issue here.
Natural Law: The Issue
Nobody cares where Amy Barrett goes to church. No senator wonders whether she accepts specifically Catholic dogmas like the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. We Catholics accept those based on faith in apostolic tradition, and don’t expect outsiders to assent to them them. We’d certainly never try to legislate based on them. Barrett could accept all those dogmas and more, for all they care. She could collect little pieces of saints and make annual pilgrimages to Fatima. Pro-choice “Catholics” like Joe Biden and Tim Kaine like to hobnob with tame Jesuits. They even go to Mass, and receive Holy Communion in defiance of church law. It reminds voters that they’re Irish.
What Feinstein and Durbin are trying to impose via their questions is really a “natural law” test. Barrett must renounce natural law and all its works. That’s the price of admission as a citizen. They are treating belief in natural law as if it were membership in the Communist Party. And these were the 1950s. And they were Joseph McCarthy and his allies.
What matters is that Barrett imitates them on one key issue. She must reject natural law. That’s because it’s religiously neutral, universal, and hence a legitimate source of legislation in America. In fact, the Declaration of Independence invokes “nature’s God” and the natural rights he grants us. Nothing specifically Catholic about that.
What Feinstein and Durbin are trying to impose via their questions is really a “natural law” test. Barrett must renounce natural law and all its works. That’s the price of admission as a citizen. (Maybe we should add it to the Naturalization Oath.) Indeed, they are treating belief in natural law as if it were membership in the Communist Party. And these were the 1950s. And they were Joseph McCarthy and his allies.
The Nihilist Party
In one sense they’re right. The official ideology that governs the U.S. today is radically opposed to natural law. In fact, it scoffs at reason. If we take as official the current Supreme Court’s reading of the U.S. Constitution, we live in a country that isn’t Christian. In fact, it’s neither natural nor lawful.
No, we’re ruled by the nihilist teenager’s fantasy that Justice Kennedy (another lousy Catholic) cooked up in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). The key passage is this: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” At the moment, that’s the creed of the American government. And it will be, until and unless we get better justices onto SCOTUS.
That’s not the liberty our Founders thought they were protecting. It’s nihilism.
Yes, we Catholics happen to be more often pro-life than Mainline Protestants. We track with evangelicals and orthodox Jews. But our opposition to abortion is not a private matter of Catholic teaching. It’s the result of our reflection on the natural law, which is religiously neutral. We hold that the universe is orderly. That reason can yield stubborn truths. It exists outside the mind of the individual, like the axioms of math. It raises us above the other animals. It binds us. It tells us that we may not kill our young with impunity, like crazed apes.
We are not Harambe. And that’s the truth Sen. Feinstein is afraid of. A rational faith that reaches across church lines is a powerful Force indeed. Let us hope, pray, and work to see that it blows up the Death Star that Justice Kennedy helped to finish. It has already claimed 60 million American lives — as many people as live today in California and Florida combined. A high price to pay for an adolescent’s idea of liberty.