The Corner

Another Question, Another Answer

Andrew Sullivan also writes: “Here’s the question I’m still wrestling with. If a judge were to say that he supports Roe because he believes that there is a right to privacy in the Constitution and that that right applies to a woman’s ownership of her own body, and thereby the right to abort an unborn child, would that trigger the church hierarchy’s removal of that judge from the communion rail? And how could that threat not affect a judge’s rulings as a matter of fact?” (emphasis his).

Let me break this into two questions: first, what does someone like me, who believes that the bishops ought to apply a general policy of refusing communion to politicians who support “abortion rights,” think should be done in this case; second, what would the hierarchy actually be likely to do.

On the first question: I don’t think this would be likely to be something that the church hierarchy could or should try to resolve. It would have to be handled in the confessional. The question for confessor and penitent alike would be, is the judge’s decision, however sound or unsound the reasoning on which it was based may be, consistent with willing justice for the unborn? If the judge honestly (if erroneously) concluded both that the Constitution includes a right to privacy and that this constitutional right extends to abortion–and did not reach these conclusions by in any way assuming that the law should treat the unborn as disposable–then I would think that he would still be eligible for communion without having to repent his decision. To put it somewhat loosely: The judge would have to be able to wish that the Constitution were different than he thinks it is.

On the second: I highly doubt that anything would happen. It’s not as though most bishops are clamoring to take action in more clear-cut cases. Only a handful have acted.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Wheels Begin to Come Off in the House

The Republican House has never been particularly functional, but Ryan has managed to hold it together admirably — until now. The Freedom Caucus took down the farm bill last week to pressure for a vote on a hawkish immigration bill, while a discharge petition is gaining ground with the support of Republican ... Read More
World

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Wins, America Loses

Derek Scissors of AEI has a sour take on the latest turn in U.S.–China trade talks: If there’s good news, it’s that the Trump administration has fallen silent on whether the U.S. will bend our law for China in the ZTE case, which got so much attention last week. That would be a big step backward. But even ... Read More
Culture

Jonathan Swift in a White Suit

In 1965 Tom Wolfe visited Princeton University for a panel discussion of "the style of the Sixties." The author of The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, published that year, was scheduled to appear alongside Günter Grass, Allen Ginsberg, and Paul Krassner. Grass spoke first. The German novelist's ... Read More
World

In Appreciation, and against (Too Much) Nostalgia

To put it a little self-pityingly: It seems that my gurus are going, and the world’s. Richard Pipes, the great historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, died on Thursday; Bernard Lewis, the great historian of the Middle East, died yesterday. We had them both for a long time. Pipes was born in 1923, Lewis way ... Read More
Culture

Comedians Are Catching On

The comedians are beginning to catch on. Over the weekend -- just one week after featuring a bevy of top-line Hollywood stars impersonating members of the Trump administration, as well as a cameo by a vengeful Stormy Daniels asking for President Trump’s resignation -- Saturday Night Live finally acknowledged ... Read More
PC Culture

The Nature of Progressive Insensitivity

Former vice president Joe Biden is back in the news yet again. For a second time, he seems surprised that poor residents of the inner city are capable of doing sophisticated jobs: We don't think ordinary people can do things like program, code. It's not rocket science, guys. So, we went and we hired some folks ... Read More
Culture

The Feminization of Everything Fails Our Boys

Let me share with you two troubling — and, I believe, closely linked — news reports. The first, from this weekend, comes courtesy of the American Enterprise Institute’s Mark Perry. In one chart, he highlights the dramatic and growing gender gap in higher education. In short, women are dominating: ... Read More