Senate candidate Martha Coakley (D-MA) on “conscience clause”

Someone alerted me to a comment made by a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat for Massachusetts Martha Coakley (D-MA). Kathryn Lopez of National Review picked it up.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It’s a Good Thing for Martha Coakley That There Are No Catholics in Massachusetts

[Kathryn Jean Lopez]

Oh. Wait. There are a few, aren’t there?

During an interview today, Martha Coakley was asked about the conscience issue Catholic medical personnel encounter when it comes to a law that mandates the distribution of  emergency contraception, which sometimes works as an abortifacient.  (I wrote about the details of this issue as pertain to Scott Brown and Massachusetts and Martha Coakley’s misrepresentation of all of this here.)

Coakley explained that this should not be a problem because "we have a separation of church and state." "Let’s be clear," the attorney general added. 

The radio host, Ken Pittman, pointed out that complex legal principle that "In the emergency room you still have your religious freedom."

Coakley agrees that "The law says that people are allowed to have that." But, making clear her view — the attorney general who wants to be the next senator from Massachusetts — she declared that "You can have religious freedom, but you probably shouldn’t work in an emergency room." (Listen here.)  [So… Martha Coakley will be against freedom on conscience for health care workers.]

And perhaps Saint Elizabeth’s on Cambridge Street shouldn’t have an emergency room at all?

Martha Coakley is a terrible candidate.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Agnes says:

    “Your religious freedom stops at the tip of your nose.”
    “GO therefore and baptize ALL nations…”

    Is there a problem in reconciling these two statements? What sort of answer will we give to Christ the Judge when He asks, “So, how many people did you bring with you?” We absolutely need good pro-life docs and nurses, perhaps most especially in the ERs and hospices and maternity wards. I am particularly worried about what will become of our hospitals and hospices if Catholics and pro-lifers are effectively blocked out.

  2. EnoughRope says:

    You get the tar, I’ll get the feathers.

  3. I don’t think we need tar and feathers. I think people in Massachusetts should simply vote for someone who will support a conscience clause.

  4. icon66 says:

    Look on the bright side… least she’s catholic.

  5. MrsHall says:

    One word: scary.

  6. Childermass says:

    You can’t turn on the TV here in Massachusetts without seeing Coakley ads continuously bashing Scott Brown for allegedly voting to “deny” rape victims “emergency care” (the visual: a grief-stricken woman with her head in her hands). There is also a charge that Brown wants to deny seniors prescription drugs (worried old lady pictured).

    Another Coakley ad ties Brown to Bush/Cheney and Rush Limbaugh (sinister-looking photos of each are shown).

    Coakley is surprisingly desperate considering the Democrats have held this seat since 1953.

    She was far ahead of Brown, but recent polls show the race to be a dead heat.

    Coakley is an Emily’s-List abortion wacko. She must be stopped.

  7. irishgirl says:

    Yikes-this lady’s scary!

  8. mpm says:

    Ken Pittman’s final word says it all: “Wow…”

  9. SimonDodd says:

    I just don’t read this the way that I think most people are reading it. The outrage only makes sense to me if Coakley is read to be saying: “you probably shouldn’t BE ALLOWED to work in an emergency room.”

    That isn’t what she said. The most natural reading of her comment is that you probably shouldn’t—i.e. should choose not to—work in a position that places you in morally compromising positions. That isn’t outrageous in the slightest. In preconstantinian times, as I recall, the Church didn’t allow Christians to serve as teachers or architects, for instance, because such work (teaching involved teaching paganism and architecture involved designing pagan temples) would place them in the compromising situation of an unacceptable level of participation in paganism. The same is true today, to some extent. Would anyone dispute this statement: “if you’re a Catholic, you probably shouldn’t work for Planned Parenthood”? I would think “duh” not “how dare you” would be the natural response to that. To the extent that there would be dispute, one would think it would be over whether the modifier “probably” should be deleted.

    No argument here that Coakley’s an awful candidate, and I assume that she is coming at this result from the wrong direction (she is, doubtless, thinking of protecting the patient’s “right” to access particular services, rather than protecting the conscience of the believer). I’d also wonder if an ER is the kind of environment where Christian ethics are likely to be contradicted. Nevertheless, reading what she actually said without conveniently interpretating in words that aren’t there, I’m not sure she’s fundamentally wrong.

  10. Jack007 says:

    If you follow your logic to its conclusion, then the only people working in ER would be non Catholic pro abortion, euthanasia, etc… Is that really where YOU want to end up needing emergency services?

    Jack in KC

  11. MichaelJ says:


    There is no restriction today against Catholics becoming architects or teachers. Why is that? Isn’t it because no teacher today can be forced to teach paganism and no architect today can be forced to to design pagan temples. Why should doctors and emergency room personnel be different? Why do you accept without question that doctors must perform abortions?

  12. SimonDodd says:

    Jack, with respect, I think you’re overreading my comment as well as Coakley’s. :)

    I did not say that Catholics shouldn’t work in the ER. I didn’t even say that Catholics should never work in jobs where moral difficulties may arise—and even if I had said that, I expressly questioned whether an ER qualifies as such an environment. (The Planned Parenthood example is plainly a horse of a different color: it’s an environment saturated with moral—not to mention canonical—difficulties, not merely one in which such difficulties might conceivably arise from time to time.)

    What I said was that it isn’t outrageous to suggest that Catholics should consider not working in jobs that routinely involve morally difficult positions. Coakley evidently thinks that a job in ER is one. I disagree with her on that, but if that’s her premise and we stipulate it for sake of argument (which I think we have to in order to evaluate the issue here, viz. the temperature of the firestorm she’s created, as opposed to the acual merits of her remarks), her reasoning and conclusion are defensible and relatively uncontroversial.

  13. SimonDodd says:

    Michael, see my reply to Jack above. I didn’t accept any such thing, implicitly or explicitly.

  14. robtbrown says:

    Coakley and her ilk always fail to realize that there is more to the freedom of religion than the Establishment Clause. There is also the Freedom of Exercise Clause, which prohibits the govt from prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Thus, the govt is obligated not to do anything that undermines one’s practice of religion.

  15. robtbrown says:

    What I said was that it isn’t outrageous to suggest that Catholics should consider not working in jobs that routinely involve morally difficult positions.
    Comment by SimonDodd

    I think that’s true, but IMHO the First Amendment prohibits the govt from funding those kinds of jobs.

  16. SimonDodd says:

    Rob, it’s obligated not to do anything that undermine’s one’s practice of religion for the purpose of undermining one’s practice of religion. Compare Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), with Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993).

  17. SimonDodd says:

    Rob, just to be clear, you’re suggesting that the Free Exercise clause prohibits the government from funding any job that the religious scruples of any religion might inhibit an adherent from taking?

  18. skeeton says:

    I do not know you, so I want you to know I mean no offense with this comment. But I think you’re taking the easy way out on this issue. As opposed to Catholics “not working in jobs that routinely involve morally difficult positions,” I prefer to think that we are called to arms in difficult times. We are to be a light to the nations, right? In my honest opinion, Catholics should pursue exactly those types of jobs! Who better to make a difficult moral decision than a well catechized and well formed Catholic? It’s our obedience to the faith of Jesus Christ in those sticky situations that causes the Light of Christ to shine more brilliantly than ever. Yes, it might lead to our persecution, but aren’t we supposed to be all about suffering with the Lord?

  19. MichaelJ says:

    Actually Simon you did when you equated working in an ER with working for Planned Parenthood. the two entities have different reasons for existence and only one’s is founded on morally corrupt reasons. The solution, then, isnt to avoid working in the ER, it is to remove the possibility that it is a morally compromising occupation – just as was done for the teachers and architects you cited.

  20. Justin from Ohio says:

    I would encourage anyone reading this who has devout, faithful Catholic relatives or friends in Massachusetts to email and/or call them and explain how important it is for them to vote on Tuesday and to vote for Scott Brown.

    I know I’ve already forwarded several links to these crazy statements and articles to my aunt and uncle that reside in Mass.

    This race could come down to just a couple thousand or a couple hundred votes on Tuesday. People must be informed just how radical this lady is….

  21. avecrux says:

    I’m sorry Simon, but you are SO SO SO wrong. Environments in which there are routinely morally difficult positions is EXACTLY where Catholics must be. There is Truth, and someone must be there to act in accordance with it. That’s the point. Act in accordance with it and take whatever comes as a consequence….

  22. SimonDodd says:

    Skeeton, none taken. What you’re suggesting is a perfectly sound argument. My point wasn’t to say that Coakley’s contrary position was correct, only to point out that what she said seems to have been misunderstood to say something far more inflammatory than it actually was.

    There’s certainly an argument that you can do more good by going to work in a morally tricky environment, although in saying that “it might lead to our persecution, but aren’t we supposed to be all about suffering with the Lord,” you make me think of folks who do civil disobedience. If you want to fight the man by refusing to follow the law as an act of protest, you can’t claim immunity from prosecution. Likewise, if you insert yourself into a job where you’re routinely expected to do things to which you have a moral objection, you can certainly refuse to do those things, but I don’t know that you can then complain if they fire you. Another example: Suppose you’re a vegetarian, and take a job as chef. You’re entitled to refuse to cook dishes involving meat to take a moral stand, but if you really want to offer it up, can you then complain (or be surprised) that they fire you you and hire someone who’ll do the job they’re paying you for? I’m not speaking in terms of employment law here, to be sure, but my own view is that we’re entitled to be free of discrimination, but we aren’t entitled to special priveleges. As Avecrux puts it above, the price of acting in accordance with the truth is the obligation to “take whatever comes as a consequence.”

    And again, just to reiterate: there is a lengthy continuum between those jobs which necessarily, inherently, and constantly place one in situations of moral difficulty, and those in which such situations may arise from time to time. Most jobs are somewhere between those two poles, but some jobs are closer to the one than the other, and I think that the closer to the former pole, the harder a Catholic should think before taking that job. Enough has been said about PP, so another example from that end of the continuum may illuminate: presumably Avecrux does not believe that the production of hardcore pornography, for example, is “EXACTLY where Catholics must be” insofar as it is an “[e]nvironment[] in which there are routinely morally difficult positions.” I certainly agree with Avecrux (and Skeeton) where jobs closer to the latter end of the continuum are concerned, but it is far too glib to simply say that where there is evil, there too must be Catholics.

    Michael, “actually,” I didn’t. Your basis for saying that I did seems to be your claim that I “equated working in an ER with working for Planned Parenthood,” even though I expressly rejected an equality between PP and an ER. (The former, I said, is “plainly a horse of a different color” to the latter.)

  23. Oh, and doesn’t this come under the WTH file?
    What is the woman about, anyway?

  24. avecrux says:

    Simon – I read “routinely morally difficult” to mean in need of proper decision making in a complex environment.
    Taking care of the sick should not be a “routinely morally difficult position”. It has been made such by evil people promoting the Culture of Death. Because of this fact, yes – those who serve Life and Truth should be there and, yes, suffer the consequences brought by acts of civil disobedience if such becomes required. HOWEVER – those advocates of death who are responsible for the corruption of the practice of medicine and seek to persecute doctors with properly formed consciences for acting in accord with Truth are objectively guilty of GRAVE EVIL. The Catholic doctor is there to witness to the Truth about the objective reality of the healing arts. There is nothing complex about the production of hard core pornography, however. There is no good possible in such a job, and therefore no Truth to testify to. Production of hard core pornography (like the procuring of an abortion) is an objectively grave, evil act. It is not a “morally difficult” environment – it is an INTRINSICALLY EVIL environment (as is an abortion mill). An ER is not.

  25. EXCHIEF says:

    If we CHOOSE not to work in the ER becuase it is a difficult moral environment we accomplish only two things, neither of which are good. One, we bow to the enemy and loose just one more battle in the war. Two, we leave a field where there is much potential to do good and we abandon it to those who will push their agenda of immorality upon vulnerable people at a difficult time in their lives.

    On a related subject today’s polls show the Dem seat from MA in trouble. The fix? BO will visit MA this weekend and campaign on behalf of his candidate. In many states right now that would be the kiss of death. Not sure about MA given its liberal persuasion but hopefully it will be there as well.

  26. mpalardy says:

    As a resident of Massachusetts, I can attest to the fact that Coakley must be stopped. This is but one grievous instance of the wanton disregard for humanity that our state Attorney General seems to hold. A casual glance into her work as a prosecutor, fanning the flames of the “Satanic abuse” moral panic, and railroading that poor British au pair in the 1990s, would suffice. Clearly innocent people have rotted away in prison when Coakley refused to allow an appeal when all the evidence pointed to her having railroaded them in order to make her career, often over the protesting of every lawyer and legal faculty in the land. However, she refused to prosecute a cop for child molestation. She also consciously largely overlooked Fr. Geoghan’s malfeasance in the Boston Archdiocese in 1995. Even liberals I know are flustered over the party’s nomination of Martha Coakley and are planning a vote for the independent candidate, Joe Kennedy (no relation to the other Kennedys of Massachusetts).

    I am very likely to vote for Kennedy as well, but first I need to answer the question if Coakley would do more harm in the United States Senate or if she would do more harm remaining Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Either way, she remains in some sort of political office. The question for me, is in which would she be least officious?

  27. EXCHIEF says:

    There are more checks and balances over her as AG than there will be as a member of the Senate. She is subject to the law as an AG..she can help make the law as a Senator.

  28. Supertradmom says:

    Catholics are called to work everywhere in true service occupations such as the medical profession, teaching, law. These are the places where the Gospel of Christ is needed to be seen and preached daily.

    To not be in a job because one may have to stand up for one’s faith is simply cowardice and a “moat mentality” of let the pagans have the culture.

  29. Frank Doyle says:

    As a resident of Massachusetts, I will not be voting in the
    election. Why? All three candidates have stated that they agree
    with Roe v. Wade and homosexual “marriage”. The grim reality
    here is that both Democrats and Republicans are equally bad
    on social issues. As a matter of conscience, I cannot vote.
    I know some will argue that I could vote for the lesser of
    two evils, however, the problem with that tactic is that you
    are then left with evil.

    What this state, what this country needs is conversion to the
    Catholic Faith. No candidate, no party can help us. Only Our
    Lord can. Pray. Beg for God’s mercy but do not put your trust
    in princes.

  30. SimonDodd says:

    All that’s necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to be too prissy to do anything.

  31. bookworm says:

    I actually agree with Simon Dodd up to a point but I can see two sides to this issue.

    On the one hand, I don’t know why a good Catholic would even WANT a job in which he or she will be asked to perform tasks he/she truly believes to be evil (e.g. administering emergency contraception). I’m not talking about jobs in which something morally wrong or questionable MAY come up — just about any job could pose that kind of dilemma depending on the circumstances — but jobs in which a morally objectionable task is an integral part of the job description. For a devout Catholic to apply for a job where they know filling prescriptions for the Pill, Plan B, etc., is involved would make about as much sense to me as for a Mormon or Muslim to apply for a restaurant job that involved serving liquor, or an Orthodox Jew to work in a meat processing plant that handled pork products.

    On the other hand, we do not want to create an environment in which practicing Catholics are effectively barred from the medical profession. There is so much good that can be done in the fields of medicine and pharmacy and for pro-life Catholics to have to give up the 99 percent of the job that does good just to avoid the 1 percent of the time when they are asked to do something evil isn’t right either. It seems to me, also, that most hospitals and pharmacies have plenty of other employees available who don’t object to these things, and who can easily step in when someone objects. It’s not as if entire hospitals or ERs are being forced to shut down because vast numbers of Catholic employees are refusing to do their jobs.

    Perhaps the ultimate solution would be for pro-life Catholics to get together and create their own pharmacies, medical clinics/practices, maybe even insurance companies or discounted health services plans, etc. that do not accept or seek government funding of any kind, and which one can belong to by membership, where no anti-life or anti-family practices of any kind are allowed.

  32. Frank Doyle says:


    “All that’s necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to be too prissy to do anything.”

    There is a big difference between being prissy and being principled.

    When I face my particular judgement, I do not want to have to
    explain why I supported individuals who opposed the Church’s
    moral teachings. If there was a candidate I could vote for in
    good conscience, then I would. To characterize my position as
    being “prissy” is both wrong and insulting. You don’t know me
    or what my experiences have been living in this pagan state.
    So, back off!

  33. Is it true that Scott Brown, her opponent, is pro-choice?

  34. Sorry, I mean pro-abortion…all this rhetoric is just confusing, sometimes…but I meant pro-abortion (whatever HE may call it!)

  35. Frank Doyle says:


    Scott Brown has stated that he would not work to overturn Roe v.
    Wade. I don’t think he can be trusted. Rudy Guiliani supports
    Brown and we all know what a great pro-life stalwart he is!

    This election reminds me of the 1994 race between Mitt Romney
    and Ted Kennedy. Mass Citizens for Life endorsed Romney (as
    they have endorsed Brown)only to discover that he was really
    pro-abortion. Romney claimed he was pro-life when seeking
    the Republican nomination in 2008 though I doubt many people
    here believed him. So I have seen this scenario before which
    is why I will not be voting.

  36. SimonDodd says:

    I feel for anyone who, facing their particular judgement, is put in a position of explaining why they did nothing because they couldn’t do everything. You’re right, I don’t know you, but what you have said above makes better the enemy of best, and to the extent that saying it publicly advocates it, it must be resisted lest it poison others into thinking the same way. I am willing to support a candidate who is less than ideal when the alternative is de facto complicity in the victory of a candidate who is worse.

  37. SimonDodd says:

    Let me give you an example. When the final version of healthcare bill comes back to the Senate, and the Democrats have (surprise!) bucked the bishops by failing to include adequate language re abortion, do you want it to pass, or do you want it to fail for want of the vote of a Democrat from Massachusetts? Those are our options. I vote for less evil.

  38. JonM says:


    Frank is correct. Your position is not.

    If we willingly support an evil, or otherwise incompatible circumstance with our faith, we are to do what the good Bishop Tobin said: quit our jobs and save our souls.

    Now, situations might prevent a perfect choice. In fact, most of daily life for lay people is like this. However, we do the best we can.

    Your scenario does not include the possiblity of ‘not voting’ as an option. This is always an option (and frankly as an actual SAR, I am now all for monarchy because it is clear what ‘popular government’ yields).

    If Mr. Brown said that he sought to restrict abortion and that he knows it is a moral evil, then he would be a much more attractive candidate. However, he stated that he supports ‘civil unions’ for homosexuals and that ‘Roe is the law of the land.’

    But he does want to continue sending young men like me into a rat hole war with no stated objectives to attack impovershed villagers who have no chance of fighting back (imagine how you would feel if drones bombed weddings every few weeks – I’d be pretty upset.)

    And this is what bugs me. I am a conservative. A very, very conservative person who has learned that Jesus Christ comes before all things: emotion, women, Star Trek, and national/political identity. It is clear to me that this last part is not adequately practiced.

    The Republican Party is a poor alternative to the Democratic Party. In my view, we are better off learning new skills, taking another job, or reading Church documents than worrying about politics. Our say doesn’t matter anyway as the banker bailouts clearly indicated.

  39. bookworm says:

    It would be one thing if this were a GOP primary in which Brown were up against one or more clearly pro-life candidates. (Was there a primary election held at all for this particular race?)

    If it were a primary, I would say absolutely do NOT vote for Brown, instead vote for the pro-life candidate even if said candidate has no chance of winning either the primary or the general, because the whole purpose of a party primary is for adherents of the given party to “send a message” about which candidates are acceptable or not.

    Such a situation exists right now in Illinois with regard to Obama’s former Senate seat. We have a primary coming up on Feb. 2. The currently front-running GOP candidate (Congressman Mark Kirk) is a pro-abort RINO and I will not vote for him. He does, however, have a primary opponent who is pro-life (Patrick Hughes) and I will vote for him.

    After the primary, however, the game changes considerably and the stakes get higher. It’s no longer a question of sending the GOP or Democratic party a “message.” This time you are voting for keeps and the winner gets the office in question. At that point, it’s a little too late to decide to “send a message” to the GOP by allowing their candidate to lose to someone who is clearly much, much worse.

    The Brown-Coakley race is a general election, not a primary, and whoever wins, wins for keeps. If disgruntled pro-life Republicans in Massachusetts want to send a message to their party, I highly suggest you do that some other time, like in the next available primary.

    Refusing to vote for less than perfect candidates in a GENERAL election and thereby allowing far worse candidates to win causes nothing but trouble. It’s part of the reason we ended up with Obama as president instead of McCain (and who among you is seriously going to argue that he would have been just as bad from a pro-life point of view?). It’s how Illinois ended up with that insane clown Blagojevich as governor twice — the second time (2006) he actually got less than 50 percent of the vote — but the rest was split between a less than perfect Republican and a Green Party protest candidate. I don’t want to see it happen in Massachusetts or anywhere else.

  40. Frank Doyle says:


    Morally there is no difference between these candidates. As far as
    I am concerned, Scott Brown is just the WASP version of Mitt Romney.
    I don’t know if you live in Massachusetts but I can tell you that there has been only one truly pro-life statewide candidate here in the
    last twenty years and she was ignored by the people who are
    praising Scott Brown now.

    I have no doubts about where my conscience has lead me. My position
    ” makes better the enemy of best, and to the extent that saying it publicly advocates it, it must be resisted lest it poison others into thinking the same way”. Really? What do you not understand
    about having a rightly formed conscience? And what makes you think
    Brown would really do the right thing? Because he said so? The man
    has said that he would not work to overturn Roe v. Wade. I should
    trust him? He authored legislation that had a “conscience clause”
    to allow Catholic hospitals not to be forced to administer
    “emergency” contraception to rape victims BUT he does not oppose
    the practice of administering emergency contraception and I am
    supposed to vote for him? No. I stand by my decision. I trust
    Our Lord will understand why.

    Incidentally, I saw on your blog an ad for the Scott Brown campaign.
    I don’t appreciate being lectured to by someone who appears to be
    blinded by his own partisan bias. You don’t like my position? That
    is your problem. The lesser of two evils is still evil and no
    amount of sophistry can change that fac

  41. Penguins Fan says:

    For want of a perfect candidate, some are willing to fall on a sword. Go ahead, then. Do it.

    Pro-life candidates will almost never get elected in the Northeast. Go ahead and sit and wait for one to run, then.

    Brown is not the ideal if a conservative Republican. What Brown will do, if elected, is to stop this monstrosity of a health care “reform” bill the Democrats want to shove down our throats and use as a vehicle to subsidize abortion and contraception everywhere.

    Not voting against Coakley is tantamount to voting for Coakley, who is another abortionist who calls herself Catholic.
    In that lies the greater scandal.

  42. bookworm says:

    “Scott Brown is just the WASP version of Mitt Romney.”

    I take that to mean that if the 2008 election had been Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama, you would not have voted for Romney on the grounds that “the lesser of two evils is still evil”? And that had Romney been elected president, his policies would have been just as evil as Obama’s, and Catholic hospitals and instutitions would still be in grave danger of being forced out of business or subjected to onerous regulations, and pro-lifers everywhere would now be on the verge of being forced to directly support abortion with their tax dollars under threat of going to jail if they don’t? If you believe that, I have a bridge or some swampland (or maybe another Senate seat) to sell you…

    “There has been only one truly pro-life statewide candidate here in the last twenty years and she was ignored by the people who are praising Scott Brown now.”

    Like I explained above, that’s what primary elections are for. If your GOP candidates are chosen in primary elections, then get out and support the ones who are pro-life. If they are slated by the party, then start getting involved in the party in whatever way necessary to exert influence on what candidates are chosen.

  43. Frank Doyle says:

    Penguins Fan,

    So what you are really saying is that the ends justifies the
    means. Sorry, not buying it. I did vote for the lesser of
    two evils in the past and saw what it achieved. I will not
    make that mistake again.

    “Not voting against Coakley is tantamount to voting for Coakley, who is another abortionist who calls herself Catholic.
    In that lies the greater scandal.”

    No, the greater scandal would be to compromise with evil in the
    hope that some good may come out of it. I refuse to believe Our
    Lord would want us to do that. We helped Stalin inorder to defeat
    Hitler. Would you be willing to tell anyone from Poland, Lithuania,
    etc. that Hitler’s defeat justified their enslavement? Afterall,
    think of all the lives we saved?

    If you want to vote for Scott Brown (if you even live here), then
    go right ahead. But don’t tell me that I must do so. Pin your
    hopes on politicians if it makes you feel better. However, you
    have no right to tell me to do the same.

  44. robtbrown says:


    1. No SCOTUS decision is guaranteed to be in harmony with the Constitution. Their decisions are operative, but that doesn’t mean they are definitive. I realize that those decisions are binding on the US judicial system, but I am a philosopher/theologican, not a lawyer, and so not theoretically obligated to think they are correct.

    2. The Free Exercise clause is one of those texts that on first reading sounds good, but in practical implementation probably is impossible. The text, however, is there in the First Amendment and cannot be ignored.

    3. That having been said, neither case you cite is relevant to the problem I raised–funding organizations who existence is essentially oriented toward undermining Catholic life.

    For example, the anti-establishment clause prevents the use of govt resources for promotion of religion. My point is that the free exercise clause should be interpreted in like manner–that govt resources cannot be used to undermine the practice of religion.

    A SCOTUS decision is itself only an operative opinion.

  45. robtbrown says:

    Re Scott Brown and Roe v Wade: No senator has the power to work to overturn Roe. The only power is voting in favor of SCOTUS nominees who want to see Roe overturned. Despite the considerable Repub warts, it is not secret that the Repubs, not the Dems, will provide anti Roe nominees.

    To put it more concretely: Roe wasn’t overturned because of opposition to Bork, which was largely spearheaded by Ted Kennedy. It is doubtful that Brown would ever follow a similar path.

  46. robtbrown says:

    No, the greater scandal would be to compromise with evil in the
    hope that some good may come out of it. I refuse to believe Our
    Lord would want us to do that. We helped Stalin inorder to defeat
    Hitler. Would you be willing to tell anyone from Poland, Lithuania,
    etc. that Hitler’s defeat justified their enslavement? Afterall,
    think of all the lives we saved?
    Comment by Frank Doyle

    Poland and other nations were not enslaved because the West needed Stalin’s help to defeat Hitler. They were enslaved because at the Tehran Conference FDR told Stalin he had no interest in that area, giving Stalen carte blanche.

  47. robtbrown says:

    should be: Stalin

  48. Frank Doyle says:


    Since you are singing Mitt Romney’s praises you either don’t
    live here or are just another partisan hack. I voted for Chuck Baldwin
    with a clear conscience. Since the Mass GOP are Rockerfeller
    Republicans, I wouldn’t give them the time of day.

    By the way, your hero Mitt signed into law a healthcare bill
    which the current abomination in Congress is modeled on. And
    he did absolutely NOTHING!! to oppose homosexual “marriage”.

    Clearly you have not a clue what you are talking about.

  49. Frank Doyle says:


    Actually it was at Yalta that Eastern Europe was betrayed.
    If it were not for our moral and material support of Stalin,
    then the east would not have been enslaved.

    True, we didn’t need Stalin’s help but we wanted it.

  50. tioedong says:

    this doesn’t just affect Catholics, you know, because a lot of good Muslim physicians don’t give out abortion pills either, and a lot of them work in ERs…

  51. bookworm says:

    “Since you are singing Mitt Romney’s praises you either don’t live here or are just another partisan hack.”

    I am NOT “singing Mitt Romney’s praises” — I never voted for him in ’08, I did NOT want him to be the GOP nominee, and he is no “hero” of mine — but simply acknowledging what should be obvious to anyone: that HAD he ended up running against Obama, and won, we would not have had the absolutely horrendous policies regarding abortion that we have threatening us now. (This is not to say, however, that he wouldn’t have been just as bad or perhaps worse in other policy areas.) Also, can you seriously argue that he would have come up with worse Supreme Court nominees?

    No, I don’t live in Mass., I live in Illinois, which is just as bad if not worse when it comes to being controlled by hopelessly pro-abort Democrats. And part of the reason for this is because the GOP won’t get it’s act together, and because conservatives won’t unite behind a single candidate — there are always multiple pro-life candidates dividing up the votes among them, and squabbling endlessly over who is “really” pro-life or conservative enough, the end result is that weak, RINO candidates are the only ones that survive the GOP primaries, and corrupt pro-abort Democrats keep winning the statewide offices over and over and over again. You might want to do a little research into how Obama got his Senate seat in the first place, and into the GOP bungling that made his victory possible.

    I am aware of the universal health insurance law in Mass. and how badly it has backfired — perhaps this is one very big reason voter sentiment is running so high against Coakley and why appeals to the Ted Kennedy legacy and saving the healthcare plan don’t seem to be having the desired effect.

  52. Frank Doyle says:


    “I am NOT “singing Mitt Romney’s praises”—I never voted for him in ‘08, I did NOT want him to be the GOP nominee, and he is no “hero” of mine—but simply acknowledging what should be obvious to anyone: that HAD he ended up running against Obama, and won, we would not have had the absolutely horrendous policies regarding abortion that we have threatening us now. (This is not to say, however, that he wouldn’t have been just as bad or perhaps worse in other policy areas.) Also, can you seriously argue that he would have come up with worse Supreme Court nominees?”

    I can’t think of anything Romney did as governor that would lead
    anyone to your conclusions. And yes, I can seriously argue that
    Romney would come up with Supreme Court nominees that are just
    as bad if not worse. Like most politicians, Romney is an opportunist
    and cannot be trusted. The last decent governor we had was Ed King
    and he lost to Dukakis in 1982.

    I am aware of Illinois’ reputation which can best be summed up in
    two words: Cook County. The only difference between your state and
    mine is that in yours there is probably more to steal.

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