Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Horwitz (and Sullivan) on religion and politics

Paul Horwitz has a typically thoughtful post up, at Prawfsblawg, about religion and politics -- including, specifically, the efforts by the Catholic bishops to focus attention on threats to religious freedom -- and the election.  In the comments, responding to the report that many Catholics apparently believe that the Church should focus more on social-justice matters and less on "social issues" like abortion, I wrote that "while I don't think it's realistic to expect Catholic bishops to retreat from their public witness on the abortion question -- it is, for them (as it is for me) a foundational 'social justice' question -- it is essential that this witness not be perceived as (because, in fact, it is not) merely partisan."  Yes, this witness will be criticized, as "partisan", whether it is or not, by partisans, but . . . it must not be.

There will be lots of triumphalism, and lots of despair, around the blogosphere, and also in its Catholic neighborhoods -- I voted for the other guy, and really wish, for the good of the country and the future of my children, that he had won -- and lots of "what if's?" and "here's what really happened" diagnoses.  Two thoughts from this amateur-at-best observer:  First, to me, it appears -- and, I admit, this makes me very sad -- that the HHS mandate, the "war on women" nonsense, the foregrounding of Planned Parenthood, and the association of Republican candidates generally with a few candidates' mis-statements on abortion "worked" for the Democrats.  Apparently, the country has not moved as much in a pro-life direction as I had hoped.  Next, it also appears that the party that is, and that is likely to remain, the party that better advances the causes of legal protections for the unborn, education reform, and religious freedom is getting only negligible support from African-Americans and Latinos.  This cannot -- for the sake of those causes, and also because none of us should tolerate a situation in which party identification is so racially polarized -- continue.


Garnett, Rick | Permalink

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I forgot to open comments when I initially posted, so readers might want to go to Paul's post to read some thoughts he had, in the comments to his own post, in response to mine.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Nov 7, 2012 2:20:34 PM

Who wants to jump through all those hoops? But I will say that my last lengthy comment on that post, although it comes from an outsider, really was relevant, I think, to the kinds of conversations that MoJ bloggers seem to be having with each other. Whether it was right or wrong is another matter entirely.

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Nov 7, 2012 2:22:09 PM

Fortunately, gaining more support from Latinos and African-Americans (Asians too) does not require any change in opposition to abortion, but rather on a range of issues—minimum wage, union rights, universal healthcare, immigration, voter ID, Medicaid—that will also move GOP positions closer to the priorities, with allowance for prudential disagreement, articulated by Catholic social teaching. It's a win-win.

Posted by: Dave Cochran | Nov 8, 2012 12:14:34 AM

Dave, I don't think it is reasonable to imagine that the GOP would be well served by simply embracing the Democrats' social-welfare approach, or that "union rights", as that term is currently understood on the left is actually consonant with Catholic Social Teaching.

Posted by: Rgarnett@nd.edu | Nov 8, 2012 7:19:20 AM

I think it is safe to say that the priorities articulated by Benedict XVI in Charity in Truth when it comes to social and economic life are much closer to the policy preferences of black and Latino Americans, and to a lesser extent Asian Americans, than those currently on offer by today’s GOP.

If you have a young Latino trying to support his family working multiple jobs that don’t pay wages sufficient to put them above the poverty line, in workplaces that prevent any collective action by workers to address wages and working conditions, with no benefits, including healthcare coverage that would protect his family from financial ruin from the mere fact that one of them gets sick, and who lacks a driver’s license because he relies on the bus to get around and so now faces additional barriers to voting, and who is often assumed to be “an illegal” or a “taker” rather than a “maker,” I think it is fair to say, first, Catholic social teaching correctly identifies all of these things as morally problematic, and, second, today’s GOP does not offer him many compelling solutions (other than supporting vouchers which would make it affordable for him to send his kids to a quality Catholic school).

It is these kinds of issues that prevent the GOP from doing better among minority voters, and doing better among them doesn’t require adopting the Democratic platform but maybe going back to mainstream GOP positions circa 1992.

Posted by: Dave Cochran | Nov 8, 2012 10:05:36 AM

Dave -- That first sentence is probably true. You'll note that I only pushed back on the unions business, which is an area where I think partisans exploit and misuse the Church's teachings on labor and associational freedom as a justification for unjust and too-expensive policies.

I am skeptical about the claim that GOP policies in 1992 were actually of the kind that you say Latinos want, and I think (reasonable) voter-ID laws are entirely and obviously justified, but, remember, I *agree* that the GOP (and also many Democrats, but they successfully deflect blame for this) mishandles the immigration issue.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Nov 8, 2012 11:25:09 AM

Although this article talks about the root causes of violent crime, it also talks about the relationship of the break down of the Family and poverty:


Posted by: N.D. | Nov 8, 2012 12:51:19 PM