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.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Casey on Obama and faith in politics

Senator Bob Casey Jr. gave an interview to Beliefnet about religion, the presidential race, and his support for Barack Obama.  On the role of faith in the campaign:

[E]very candidate has a right to talk as much or as little about their faith as they deem appropriate. Another guideline for me is that your faith can inspire and inform and sometimes enrich your public policy points of view and how you vote on a particular piece of legislation, but it should not dictate that [point of view] . . . there are some people who think that it should be dictated and I happen not to accept that way of making public policy.

I'm sympathetic with the line Casey is trying to navigate here, but I confess that I'm not exactly sure when my faith "dictates" my views on public policy and when it "inspires and informs" those views.  Does "dictate" simply mean an unwillingness to compromise on a view that has its roots in my faith?  If so, is it always bad to have a leader whose faith "dictates" their view on a particular policy matter?  Or does "dictate" mean that I have no non-religious sources for my public policy view, suggesting that I am unable to articulate the basis for my view in terms that are accessible to those outside my faith tradition? 

And on reconciling his support for Obama with his pro-life beliefs, particularly in light of Obama's opposition to the federal partial-birth abortion ban and the Illinois Born Alive Infant Protection Act, Casey explains:

I disagree with that in a very fundamental way, and I’m sure they’ll be other things I disagree with that are serious. I do think, though that he’s the kind of public official . . . who takes the time and puts forth the effort to understand people who disagree on the issue of abortion and other issues. . . .

There’s a common ground on the issue of abortion that doesn’t get much attention, but there’s growing consensus on both sides of the issue—even with extremes on either end—that we want to reduce the number of abortions. We can debate on how to get there, but there is consensus about that. I think he would try to enhance that consensus.

Q: Has Obama or Clinton signed onto your abortion reduction legislation?

A: They haven’t, but I’ve just begun to dialogue with individual senators. [Obama] will be among the senators I’m talking to.

It will be interesting to see if Obama supports this legislation; sad to say, it will probably occur after he secures his party's nomination.


Vischer, Rob | Permalink

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