.- Supreme Court nominee Judge John Roberts should not have to submit to a religious litmus test, says Catholic League president William Donohue. But Donohue adds that informal discussions Roberts has had with some senators last week are “cause for alarm.” The Senate Judiciary Committee is not expected to hold hearings on the nomination for some time, “but already there are signs that he will be asked to submit to a religious litmus test,” said Donohue.
Donohue referred specifically to Sen. Tom Coburn’s complaint last week that Roberts was reticent when asked to explain how his Catholic religion affects his views. The senator said he intends to ask Roberts about this again at their next meeting.
The League president also referred to a report in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times that cites George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. Turley said when Sen. Dick Durbin asked Roberts what he would do if the law required a decision that conflicted with his religion Roberts reportedly said he would probably have to recuse himself.
“The Catholic League is angry at Coburn and Durbin for asking these questions, and at Roberts for his replies,” said Donohue.
Donohue pointed out that in 1993 Supreme Court nominee Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not asked to defend her strong Jewish cultural identity.
“Ginsburg was never asked to explain why her identity as a Jew was mostly cultural. Nor was she asked how her secular identity might affect her rulings on abortion and church-state issues,” said Donohue. “Indeed, it would have been outrageous had anyone attempted to pursue such a line of inquiry.
“Why it is not seen as equally outrageous for Coburn and Durbin to go down this road is testimony to the double standard? Ginsburg was not asked to submit to a religious litmus test and neither should Roberts,” he contiued.
“If Roberts doesn’t defend himself on this matter, he will only feed the sharks,” Donohue said. “Playing it too safe isn’t cute: he’d better show some gumption.”