A new, but not unprecedented, form of religious discrimination

Hugh Hewitt’s piece, The Catholic Test, Part 2, discussed below by Trunk, locates the religious discrimination inherent in opposing Catholic appellate court nominees based on concerns that their religious views will influence their decisions on moral issues. The Senate Democrats don’t claim that having passionate views about issues like abortion should disqualify someone from being a judge. Nor do they claim that having passionate views that stem from adherence to doctrine should so disqualify nominees. Doctrinaire feminist nominees have never encountered difficulty from the Democrats. But in the case of William Pryor, the Senate Democrats base their opposition (as far as I can tell) on (a) his passionate views about the issue of abortion and (b) the concern that, because these views stem from deeply held religious beliefs, they will influence his rulings in cases on the subject where there is room for disagreement (Pryor has said he will follow settled Supreme Court doctrine). To me, this is discrimination against Catholic doctrine and against its adherents, namely believing Catholics. The fact that the discrimination stems from animus against the doctrine, rather than the person, is not a mitigating factor. Ill treatment of Jews because they do not accept Christ is religious discrimination (and indeed anti-Semitism) even if it is not motivated by a stereotype (Jews are greedy) or raw hatred. It is also discrimination (and anti-Semitism) even if the same treatment is imposed on non-Jews who do not accept Christ, and even if Jews who accept Christ (“Jews for Jesus”) are not ill-treated.
What is confusing some people about this issue, I think, is the fact that the discrimination against believing Catholics has an ulterior motive. The motive is to maximize the availability of abortions and to maintain the approval of certain feminists, not to punish believing Catholics. Catholic lawyers lose out only because they stand in the way of the Senate Democrats’ goals. But, again, this is not unusual in the annals of religious discrimination. Persecution of Jews has often been the result of ulterior motives — e.g.,to distract attention from military defeat, to increase one’s property holdings, or (perhaps of most relevance here) to gain political power.


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