Thursday, July 21, 2005

It's a Romish Plot!!!

Howard Fineman attempts to re-start the Know-Nothing movement over the Roberts nomination:

He and his wife are members of a suburban Roman Catholic parish known for its good educational programs and rock-steady values. His two kids are adopted. Washington sits on a substratum of Catholic conservatism that few people who aren’t from here understand. It goes back to Georgetown University and pre-D.C. Maryland history. It is that community that Roberts represents, and that Bush is paying homage to with this pick.

You know, that "substratum" that was plotting to take over the USA on a signal from the Evil Conspirator Pope and his (all foreigners--notice that?) Curia. They all speak funny languages, and ...they're against Democracy, and.....yeah, that's it...they Hate Jews.....and....oh, yeah, they Hate Sex, TOO!!!

It's all there, in the history books, written by such luminaries as Jack Chick and Robert Byrd's alma mater, the KuKluxKlan.

HT to Betsy's Page:


Perhaps by coincidence, there's a bit of controversy over a speech given by Judge Pryor to the Thomas More Society (Catholic lawyers) recently. That discussion can be found at the Southern Appeal:

Money quote:

Although it certainly would have been appropriate for Pryor to mention that stain of dishonor on Black's Supreme Court tenure. See, e.g., Philip Hamburger, "Separation of Church and State," (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 2002). As one reviewer of Hamburger's most excellent book notes:

"The true source of separationism was a massive reorientation of political theory among "liberal" Protestants in the nineteenth century (p. 193), which posited Catholics and their priests as antithetical to American democracy. This "nativist" impulse (p. 202), Hamburger maintains in a particularly brilliant chapter, led secular and religious Americans to condemn all ecclesiastical authority because they opposed Catholics. Gradually, they persuaded themselves that this condemnation was the essence of the establishment clause and a safeguard of "true" religious liberty. The rich history of nineteenth-century anti-Catholicism has been explored before, but never so neatly connected to constitutional theory.

By the mid-twentieth century, the conflation of separationism and liberty was so pervasive, Hamburger argues, that the Supreme Court naturally (if unjustifiably) absorbed it in its first case involving state aid to parochial schools. Justice Hugo Black, a native of Alabama and former member of the notoriously anti-Catholic Ku Klux Klan, wrote the opinion in Everson v. Board of Education (1947). Hamburger claims that Black relied on Jefferson's wall of separation to turn his own anti-Catholicism into constitutional law. "Black had long before sworn, under the light of flaming crosses," Hamburger writes, "to preserve 'the sacred constitutional rights' of 'free public schools' and 'separation of church and state'" (p. 462). Black's majority opinion, however, upheld free bus transportation of schoolchildren to parochial schools, over the dissents of four justices. Hamburger argues that the case's reasoning, rather than its result, is the real story. The result discomfited Black's Catholic critics; the reasoning laid the groundwork for future cases.

In the world after Everson, Hamburger claims, "separation has barred otherwise constitutional connections between church and state ... [T]he First Amendment, which was written to limit government, has been interpreted directly to constrain religion" (p. 484).

This is a powerful indictment not only of constitutional law in the twentieth century but also of a broad and long-standing American majority opinion. Hamburger has done prodigious historical detective work, and his book deserves to become a staple in history of religion clauses. His unrelenting focus on anti-Catholicism produces new insights into the cozy relationship between Protestant self-congratulation and anti-Catholic prejudice. It also condemns much of the work of the Supreme Court, which has relied on Black's constitutional historiography to decide contemporary cases.

It is ironic, to say the least, that a number of US Bishops have indirectly espoused Hugo Black's vituperative and gut-level anti-nomian stance--most notably through their stubborn dismissal of Rome's authority on matters liturgical. The agreed-upon 'father' of the "Americanist" US Bishops' movement was the Bishop of St. Paul (MN.) back in the early 1900's.

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