As a scholar, Judge Amy Coney Barrett once opined that Catholic judges should not seek to “align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge.” That view implied, however, that when a state law does embody Catholic doctrine — say, by significantly restricting abortion’s availability — a Catholic judge might feel duty-bound to uphold it. Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh should be asked how legislation invoking government’s police powers to enforce policies grounded principally, if not solely, in arbitrary religious beliefs can be squared with the First Amendment’s prohibition against enacting any “law respecting an establishment of religion.”
However deeply felt, Catholic and evangelical Christian voters’ sensibilities about such things as abortion, contraception and homosexuality should not be dignified in law any more than the patriots’ feelings that were offended in the 1989 decision allowing — with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s conscientious concurrence — flag-burning to protest alleged national misdeeds. The Supreme Court might have served the nation better had it grounded its ruling in Roe v. Wade not in artificial reasoning about privacy rights but in the Constitution’s policy of defending religious and other freedoms while barring back doors to theocracy.
Clark Havighurst, Pittsboro, N.C.
Forget Roe. Forget Obergefell . Forget Lochner. Focus on one simple principle: No man should be allowed to pick the judges who will sit on cases in which that man is a defendant. Especially when the judges are on a court that would have the final say on whether the man may be subpoenaed or tried for crimes or may pardon himself and/or potential co- conspirators. That would spell the end of the rule of law.
In this case, we have a president who is and who has family members and potential co-conspirators who are subjects of, people of interest in and even defendants in ongoing investigations and court cases, civil and criminal, at the federal and state levels. No other president has been the subject of so many active civil and criminal investigations.
President Trump therefore should not be in a position to basically escape liability by naming his own judges. The proof in the pudding is that Mr. Trump went out of his way to select the one and only judge on the Federalist Society’s long list of potential nominees for the Supreme Court who has for the public record opined that a sitting president should not have to answer subpoenas and should get “a temporary deferral of civil suits and of criminal prosecutions and investigations.”
Michael Miller, Lorton
I was deeply disturbed that David French, in his July 11 Wednesday Opinion essay, “The president picked the wrong judge,” which criticized the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, lamented the missed opportunity to “inflame the culture wars.” Mr. French’s argument was grounded in an appeal to Christian values that suffered two problems. First, he appeared to discount that the Constitution protects freedom from the establishment of religion as well as Americans’ right to free exercise first among the individual liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights. More to the point, Christ taught love and compassion, not imposing values at the point of a gun. We as Americans need leadership and a community of effort that attempts to unite, not divide.
Monte Bourjaily, Alexandria