Vatican, Meet the Supreme Court; Court, Meet Vatican

Christopher Hitchens is irritated.

What in God’s name – you should forgive the expression – is all this about there being “no religious test” for appointments to high public office? Most particularly in the case of the U.S. Supreme Court, there is the most blatant religious test imaginable. You may not even be considered for the bench unless you have a religion of some kind. Surely no adherent of any version of “originalism” can possibly argue that the Framers of the Constitution intended a spoils system to be awarded among competing clerical sects.

Argue, no, probably not, but then the adherents don’t have to, do they, since no one (Hitchens apart) ever makes an issue of it. Especially not the people who actually vote whether or not to confirm Supreme Court nominees – which is Hitchens’ point, and why he’s irritated.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the man who is now our chief justice. I pointed to unrebutted evidence that, in answer to a direct question from a fellow Catholic (Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill.), Roberts had replied that in the case of a conflict between the law and the teaching of the Vatican, he would recuse himself. Since obviously it is impossible to nominate, let alone confirm, anyone who does not answer that the law and the Constitution should control in all cases, I proposed that Roberts ought to be asked the question again and in public. For this, I got exactly what I expected: allegations of anti-Catholic bigotry from the fideists at National Review and then (not just for my benefit) a full-page ad or two in the press, saying that anyone who dared raise such a question would be accused of applying … “a religious test.”

So much for that little issue then.

But what is honest skepticism – and a regard for evidence and logic – when set against the profession of a mere “faith” that neither demands nor offers any evidence of any kind? And this latter “qualification” is now urged upon us with special fervor in the selection of – a judge.

Score one for the theocrats.

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