Conservative Catholic activist Bill Donohue shocked me this morning by saying he will “quietly root for” the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor. During an email exchange, he wrote:
“I like the fact that she is not brandishing her religion. I do not want Catholic judges to rule as Catholics but as judges. I am all for Catholic legislators having a Catholic-informed opinion, but a judge has a different charge. Unless something pops that we don’t know about, I am not going to oppose her. Indeed, the experiences I had working with the Puerto Rican community lead me to quietly root for her.”
Donohue is the head of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, and a longtime critic of liberal cafeteria Catholics, pro-choice Catholic politicians and anti-Catholic bias in the media. He’s an honorary member of the “religious right” so his comments are sure to stir conversation among religious conservatives.
The first part of the comment is interesting, as it mirrors what Justice Antonin Scalia has himself said: that Catholic judges have no obligation to bring to bear their religion in deciding matters on the court. It signals that I may have been wrong in predicting full out Catholic church campaign against her. Of course, it may be easier for Donohue — and the Catholic hierarchy — to stomach Sotomayor because she doesn’t, so far, seem to be a down-the-line pro-choicer.
Whatever the reason, Donohue’s statement is a signal that, at a minimum, there is not a united front among religious conservatives.