E.J. Dionne's column, excellent as usual, calls the right-wing on their hypocrisy in regard to Harriet Miers' religious beliefs:
"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 [John Roberts, in this case]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 .[...]
"Maybe it's the judicial implications of her evangelical faith, unseen on the court in recent decades," Olasky wrote on his blog. "Friends who know Miers well testify to her internal compass that includes a needle pointed toward Christ."[...]
Let's be clear: It is pro-administration conservatives, not those terrible liberals, who are making an issue of Miers's evangelical faith. Liberals are not opposing Miers because she is an evangelical. Conservatives are telling their friends to support Miers because she is an evangelical.
Which, of course, is unarguably hypocritical. But it's funny that Dionne doesn't make the more obvious point here. It's not only that republicans have said the stuff about the religious test and are now using religion to gain support. It's that republicans have always been very clear about what they think judges are supposed to do: they think judges should strictly interpret the law and the Constitution, and that's it.
Even when Bush announced Miers, he said that she "will strictly interpret our Constitution and laws. She will not legislate from the bench." Bush said of some judges whose nominations were being held up that "They will strictly and faithfully interpret the law. They won't use the bench from which to legislate." What about foreign law? Kevin Fobbs tells us:
The Supreme Court may not continue to be the supreme court of the land if the judicial philosophy of Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer of using foreign law rulings in adjudicating American cases is permitted to become standard practice by the justices.
Couldn't be clearer. Their position might be overstated, simplistic, and full of straw men, but it's clear: judges can't use their personal preferences, or even the laws of another country, to make their decisions. They interpret the law, plain and simple.
So why, then, does it matter that Harriet Miers' heart is pointed to Christ? Why does it matter her friend Nathan Hecht is being put on TV to tell us that in the 70s she sought a "deeper commitment to faith"? How does any of this tell us whether she'll interpret the Constitution and the law rather than legislating from the bench?
I assume, then, ahem, that this will be the first question out the mouths of conservatives during her confirmation hearing: Ms. Miers, as you know, your job as a Supreme Court justice is to faithfully interpret the law. Given how well publicized it is, then, how can we be sure that your Christian faith will not get in the way of this?