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May 17, 1996 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-05-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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may not marry relatives with-
in certain' degreeS'of "consan-
guinity and affinity." The source
of this statute? Anglican canon
law. By contrast, Jewish law
would permit a man to marry
his sister's daughter. But the
Jewish practice is forbidden in

Antonin Scalia

most states. Also, in Maryland
one may not murder, steal, bear
false witness or legally commit
adultery. The source of these
concepts should be obvious.
Presumably some are con-
cerned that Justice Scalia
may impose a strict Catholic
anti-abortion viewpoint claim-
ing that this violates the "sepa-
ration clause." By that logic
we must never have a Unitari-
an or a Presbyterian on the
bench, as those groups argue for
choice.
The Senate chamber has
busts of Moses and Mahnonides
displayed together with the
hoary visages of Roman and
Greek patricians as the "fathers'
of Western Law. That is a
simple historical fact, not a
breach of the unassailable
wall that separates church and
state. If every lobby of every
stripe can attempt to influence,
why must religion be silent? And
why can't a Supreme Court jus-
tice get religion?
Religion has the right to com-
pete in the free marketplace of
ideas with secular philosophies
to influence individuals and pub-
lic policy. Sometimes judges will
be secular. Some will be reli-
gious. But that is nothing less
than a profile of the American
people themselves. ❑

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threw down the gauntlet at the
liberals accusing them of taking
a patronizing attitude toward re-
ligious believers. "If we are fools,"
he-said, "then we are fools for
Christ."
Soon after, there was a Her-
rblock cartoon in the Washing-
ton Post that showed a row of
Supreme Court justices on the
bench, each holding in his hand
a copy of the Constitution. All
but Justice Scalia, who is shown
holding a copy of the Bible — the
implication being that Justice
Scalia was trying to force
his own Catholicism on the rest
of us by judicial fiat.
The First Amendment to the
Constitution guarantees us free-
dom of speech, press and reli-
gion. In a revolutionary stroke
it ensures that the Republic will
not have a state church. It de-
clares that Congress has no pow-
er to interfere with the free
practice of religion. In other
words, government must be neu-
tral in matters of religion, not
hostile to it.
Well, Supreme Court justices
also have freedom of speech and
of religion. It is no crime for any
American to advocate religion
before a sympathetic audience
(as did Justice Scalia), or before
a hostile one, for that matter. It _
is an incredible leap of logic to
assume that Justice Scalia's pi-
ous musings (or rantings, as the
case may be) are in effect an at-
tempt to force religion on the rest
of us. Justice Scalia doesn't have
to be a closet Catholic.
What all this fuss is really
about is a deep-seated hostility
to religion by many who hold left-
of-center political views.
Lots of these folks are Jewish
(Jews who believe more passion-
ately in the ACLU than in the
Sages of the Talmud). While cer-
tainly we must be zealous to
avoid having religious orthodoxy
of a particular denomination
imposed on the body politic,
religion has always been an
influence on society and govern-
ment. In Moliere's Bourgeois
Gentilhomme, M. Jardin, when
taught the difference between
prose and poetry, realized that he
had been speaking prose
his whole life without knowing
it. Americans, too, have
been observing religious law
without knowing it.
An example: Marylanders

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