Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Casey, Carhart, and the Court's Catholics

Here's an op-ed of mine, now up on Jurist, called "Carhart, Casey, and the Court's Catholics."  It's an expansion of the exchange that Prof. Geoff Stone and I had over at the University of Chicago law faculty blog.  Here's a bit:

It is true that the majority included “moral concerns” – like the public interest in promoting “respect for life” – among the “legitimate government interests” that could justify the federal ban. It is not clear, though, why we should regard these concerns, or the view that human fetuses are moral subjects whose lives have value, as any more “religious”, and therefore suspect, than our nation’s fundamental commitment to the view that all human beings are moral equals, regardless of race, and should be treated as such in law. For a judge to identify such concerns as a permissible basis for legislating – given the fact that, in the Court’s view, the law did not impose an “undue burden” on the abortion right – is not to attack church-state separation or to substitute revelation for the will of We the People.

It is, of course, hardly a secret that a Catholic justice is taught by his or her Church, and should believe, that abortion is a grave moral evil. However, all judges – Catholic or not – come to the bench with views, commitments, and experiences that shape their decision-making and reasoning. We can, and should, ask of every judge that she work conscientiously in every case to identify not her own preferred or “faith-based” outcome but the answer that is given by the relevant legal texts, rules, and precedents. As it happens, the Catholic understanding of vocation, and of justice under law, extends to Catholic judges the same invitation.


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