On Sunday, May 15, George Stephanopoulos interviewed Senator John McCain on ABC This Week and shared with him the following remarks that I had sent out in a press release: “It is unfortunate that Senator McCain has joined those senators who are trying to prevent godly men and women nominated by their president and supported by a majority of senators from serving on our nation’s courts.”
My press release went on to say: “There is not going to be a church in America that is not going to know exactly who those senators are.” The senator responded, in part, “I regret it, that this is the kind of way we address a very serious issue in America… I believe that, as reasonable people… we should sit down together and work this out.”
Senator McCain is absolutely right that this issue should be worked out in reasonable ways. Were that the case from the beginning, we would not have senators blocking a vote to confirm judicial nominees who are highly qualified and who already enjoy the support of a majority of the senators.
Moreover, there is a very reasonable basis for my comments that Senator McCain seems to regret. Despite the best intentions of the senator and others, the practical effect of the current filibusters is that those who want to be faithful to God's law are excluded. Take a faithful Catholic like Bill Pryor of Alabama, for example. In his previous confirmation hearings, he was told by Dianne Feinstein, “Virtually in every area you have extraordinarily strong views which continue and come out in a number of different ways. Your comments about Roe make one believe, could he really, suddenly, move away from those comments and be a judge?” Similar comments were made by other senators. Senator Ted Kennedy, for example, said, “I think the very legitimate issue…is whether you have an agenda, that many of the positions which you have taken reflect not just an advocacy but a very deeply held view and a philosophy….”
But one cannot be a faithful believer and not have deeply held views. Faith captures and changes one's whole life, one's philosophy, and one’s private and public actions. To think that therefore one cannot at the same time be a good judge is a form of bias against believers. This bias ignores both the role of faith and the strong rational basis for its tenets. I'm not saying this is a deliberate intent to exclude Catholics. I'm saying that the type of concerns expressed by those leading the filibusters do, in effect, close the door to those who live their faith the way the Church requires. A reasonable approach to the filibuster problem cannot permit that.
The Senate will soon decide whether it will insist on letting nominees, who enjoy majority support, actually receive those votes. If you have not yet called your senators, do so today at (202) 224-3121. Ask them to support the “Constitutional Option,” which will allow the votes to proceed as the Constitution says they should.
Fr. Pavone is the Founding Director of Priests for Life. You may contact Priests for Life at PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314; Tel: 888-PFL-3448 or 718-980-4400; Fax: 718-980-6515; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.priestsforlife.org.