Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Commonweal vs. Alito


The liberal Catholic journal Commonweal has an editorial explaining its view that Judge Alito’s “narrow and troubling judicial philosophy should be rejected.” The editorial instead provides a powerful lesson to faithful Catholics about the wretched prudential judgment (or is it lack of courage?) of much of the “seamless garment” crowd.

The editorial eloquently and astutely makes the case for overturning Roe and restoring abortion policy to the democratic processes:

“Roe was a terribly flawed decision, both constitutionally and morally. Thirty years of abortion on demand have done real damage to our collective sense of the sanctity and dignity of every human life, coarsened our culture and the relationship between men and women, and polarized our politics. Only legislative compromise is likely to lower the passions surrounding abortion. Such a development would also free the Democrats from the burden of defending Roe’s absolutism and broaden the party’s appeal. Unfortunately, Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee don’t see it that way.”
That last sentence is quite an understatement.

Somehow Commonweal finds this “real damage” that Roe has done and will continue to do to be outweighed by the possibility (in its view, the near certainty) “that Alito’s embrace of ‘judicial restraint’ will result in rulings restricting the federal government’s efforts in areas such as environmental protection, campaign-finance reform, voting rights, workplace safety and discrimination, and the rights of criminal defendants” and that Alito will be “excessively deferential to the executive branch” on national-security matters.

Catholics in the United States have a historic opportunity over the next decade—and perhaps a last opportunity—to push for a Supreme Court that will enable the American people to promote laws and policies that will foster a culture of life on abortion, on bioethics, on marriage, and on a host of other issues. Yet Commonweal would invoke highly speculative concerns about something like campaign-finance reform as a reason to reject a nominee who it reasonably believes would be open to voting to overturn Roe. Such a judgment displays a striking lack of judgment.


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