With regard to the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, it is inarguably clear that in terms of intellect, education, integrity, and character, she is fully qualified for the position on the Supreme Court. Her personal opinions, though, raise serious questions about issues that affect the lives of so many Americans.
I fully respect Ms. Barrett’s right as a committed Catholic to the moral precepts she has been taught and to her choice to live by them, but she should acknowledge as a judge that some of those standards are, indeed, personal convictions rather than universal absolutes. There are many people whose religious standards differ from her own — explicitly including a significant number of other Catholics, who are every bit as honorable and personally moral as she is. Furthermore, once she concedes that position, she cannot require that those with other religious doctrines– even those who espouse no religion– must be compelled by law to abide by what she considers “true” standards.
Carrying that forward, I recognize the antipathy to abortion that is central to the beliefs of many Catholics and others and thus the personal conviction that to abort a fetus– at whatever stage of development– is morally unacceptable. What they must acknowledge, though, is that I have every bit as much right to a different interpretation of the nature of a fetus and to believe that the primary interest of my wife/daughter/sister/cousin/friend, etc. should be protected even, if necessary, at the expense of that fetus. And that decision does not make me any less moral than that of Judge Barrett or of any other believer in orthodox Catholic doctrine.
Furthermore, just as much as I have no right to impose my religious beliefs on conservative Catholics (whether about abortion– I’d never attempt to convince someone that she MUST have one– or any other aspect of religion, even including whether or not there is a God), they have no right (even in their position as judge or political official) to compel me to abide by their personal religious doctrine. As a perhaps distant (but every bit as logical) parallel, I can’t require that practicing Christians (of whatever denomination) celebrate the Jewish New Year in late September in accordance with the lunar cycle, but they cannot (or, rather should not) be permitted to forbid my celebration of Rosh Hashanah.
Allow me also to add another point, explicitly regarding Judge Barrett as a nominee for the Supreme Court: Since she has, according to published reports (which I presume are accurate), issued clear and definitive statements asserting that abortion is, under any and all circumstances, an unacceptably immoral act, her ability to separate that perspective from the law, as it applies to those of other or no religions, must be subject to serious doubt. I’m most certainly not expert in matters of law and the courts, but it seems to me that her own religious definition of morality virtually requires her to recuse herself from any future SCOTUS case regarding abortion.
Robert I. Adler