Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Nominee Provokes Debate: Democrats Make Pryor's Faith, Not His Record, the Issue

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Nominee Provokes Debate: Democrats Make Pryor's Faith, Not His Record, the Issue

Article excerpt

I never thought I'd see the day when a faithful Catholic who, as a matter of faith and his conscience, rejects abortion as an assault on human life would be rejected as a federal judge because of that belief. That is exactly what is happening to William J. Pryor Jr., who was nominated by President Bush to the Federal Court of Appeals. He made the grave mistake of telling the judiciary committee that as a Catholic, he rejected abortion as a species of murder, but that he could and would abide by the law as written. In fact, he proved this when he was the attorney general of Alabama, where he enforced the law even when it went contrary to his personal belief.

The question for any judge to be appointed to any bench in this land is simply: Will he or she follow the law as written, no matter what his or her private beliefs? If the person answers yes, that is the end of the inquiry. To go further is to go beyond the law into personal beliefs that no one has a right to invade, question or dispute. But that is exactly what the Democrats in Congress are doing.

Such an inquiry was not good enough for Democrats on the committee, who later initiated a filibuster in the Senate against Pryor's nomination. These Democrats could not find any instance when Pryor refused to apply the law because of his private beliefs but feared that, being a Catholic, he "might" or "could" veer in deference to his religious faith in matters of abortion. Abortion has become the litmus test for any Democrat for approval to any federal court. Of all the federal rights, the most fundamental in the eyes of Democrats is that of abortion, the right of rights. Therefore, a Catholic must hold to abortion not simply as a matter of law but as a matter of belief, and that is not law, but ideology. Indeed, it is a subtle form of anti-Catholicism.

The answer given by Sens. …

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