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Friday, April 29, 2005

Toledo Blade Editorial: Holy war against judges

Friday, April 29, 2005

IT USED to be that politics and religion were topics not to be discussed in genial company, for fear of getting into arguments that could never be resolved.

Now, in some quarters at least, politics is religion and religion is politics, an observation underscored by last weekend's "Justice Sunday," a conflagration fanned by religious conservatives to singe opponents of a few of President Bush's most outrageous judicial nominees.


Fire and brimstone, however, is no substitute for the solid rock of constitutional law that has served this nation well for more than 200 years. The checks and balances that protect our democratic system, including the principle of judicial review of legislative actions, must not be swept away in a paroxysm of self-righteousness.

Thoughtful Americans know and appreciate the difference in government based on the rule of law and that based on theology. As Dennis Goldford, a political scientist at Drake University, told Knight Ridder Newspapers, "Politics is about compromise. Religion is about absolutes. If you bring religion into it, you destroy the chance for civil disagreement."

Agreeing to disagree in a peaceful manner is the bedrock of the American system. It is what separates us from autocratic or totalitarian governments.


What they forget is that the rule of law protects those same "people of faith" and gives them the right to practice whatever religion they choose, not one dictated by government as in a theocracy.

It is no small irony that the United States is engaged in wars on foreign soil that clearly illustrate the dangers of theocracy to human rights, while here at home we are faced with angry pressure to install theocrats of another stripe, but theocrats no less, on our traditionally independent courts.

Politicians that engage in this kind of moral misdirection really ought to consider clearly whether the temporary partisan advantage is worth the damage to the legal system that could result in the long run.

© 2005 The Blade.