The Weekly Standard has a very good piece by Joseph Bottom entitled “Alito and the Catholics: The decline of an institution and the rise of its ideas“.
IN THE SUMMER of 2003, the conservative Committee for Justice, upset over the stalled nomination of William Pryor to the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ran advertisements accusing the Democrats of imposing a “No Catholics Need Apply” rule on potential federal judges. When the antireligious advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State issued its predictable attacks on John Roberts and Samuel Alito as raging Catholic theocrats determined to tear down the wall between church and state, the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue responded with the same rhetoric of a litmus test designed to keep Catholics off the courts.
In one sense, such claims are palpable nonsense: Among the Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, Ted Kennedy, and Richard Durbin are just as officially Catholic as Samuel Alito, the nominee they spent four days grilling last week. Of course, those same senators are manifestly not believers in the coherent system of Catholic thought in the American context that a set of (mostly) conservative theorists have developed in the 33 years since Roe v. Wade was handed down. The Committee for Justice simply got the phrasing wrong. In truth, for the Democrats, Catholics are more than welcome. It’s Catholicism that’s right out the window.