Since they deem the judiciary a political branch as well, they also consider it improper for judges to allow their Christianity to play a role. The liberals' objection here has nothing to do with judicial activism or with government officials of any branch being influenced by their respective worldview. Their objection goes exclusively to the Christian worldview. They are as pleased as pagans if judges become jurisprudential slaves to their secular humanist worldview.
But by raising the religion issue, these liberal objectors seek to fan the flames of paranoia over church-state interaction to the detriment of the nominee. To the extremists among them -- far more than you might imagine -- strong Christians shouldn't be on the Court because they can't decide cases uncolored by their religious "superstition." You wait; Miers' Christianity will become a strong point of contention among libs before this battle is over.
But the principle objection among those conservatives bothered by President Bush's comments about Miers' Christianity -- I'm not one of them -- concerns constitutional interpretation. They believe that judges, especially Supreme Court justices, should be guided by the Constitution alone, not their religious convictions. Thus, Roe v. Wade should be reversed not because abortion is a moral abomination, but because it is bad law -- period.
I agree with that, but I don't think President Bush meant to imply otherwise. I don't think he intended to send code to the religious right when invoking Miers' Christianity in response to a reporter, other than possibly to imply that most strong evangelical Christians are likely to believe in judicial restraint. I think he was also saying that Ms. Miers is a good Christian lady, which reflects well on her character. I suspect Karl Rove was making the same points to Dr. James Dobson in their conversation.
I should also add the postscript, based on my e-mail inbox alone, that Christian conservatives are far from monolithic on Miers. Some, to be sure, believe that Miers' strong evangelical beliefs virtually guarantee she'll be a constitutionalist. Others realize that some self-professed evangelicals are theological and political liberals and proponents of liberal judicial activism.
I am all for the robust intra-conservative debate, but I think both sides should tone down the personal attacks and be less anxious to jump to conclusions impugning the other side's or the president's motives. And perhaps all of us, myself included, should strive to retain an open mind until the confirmation hearings.
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