"Justice Sunday II" purported to represent a new ecumenism, bringing together Catholics, Protestants and Jews in a united effort to frame the concerns of religious people as the Senate prepares for its first Supreme Court confirmation process in eleven years. But like the vastly inflated estimate of a Super Bowl-sized audience of 79 million households, this broadcast was long on self-congratulation and short on substance.
Below is a full transcript of William Donohue's remarks Sunday night, August 14, for this broadcast before a small crowd in Nashville. The audience repeatedly rose to its feet as this Heritage Foundation-supported head of the New York-based Catholic League focused entirely on abortion, with a mention of Mrs. Terri Schiavo. It is notable that, like the Bush Administration, Mr. Donohue's group has done virtually nothing to decrease the number of abortions in America.
The Catholic component in particular turned into an exercise in substance-free bombast from Dr. Donohue, whose brief speech might best be described as a tirade. He started out by bashing Irish Catholics and ended by bragging about what a threat he perceives himself to be to the left, apparently unaware of the eerie dissociation evident in one who threatens in the name of Christianity.
Aside from the vague references to abortion, there was no mention of any values that Catholics and our Bishops hold dear. No discussion of wage stagnation for the lower and middle classes, the killing in Iraq, gun violence, or the threat of global warming. There was nothing substantive on abortion, other than repetition of the same misleading stereotype – that the right is moral and the left is not. There was no mention of the rights of immigrants, minorities or those in need. The 40 million Americans without healthcare were overlooked.
Donohue chose rather to show his true extremist colors by referring to Marxist/atheist Sidney Hook as the heroic influence for a plan to essentially strip the Supreme Court of its role in maintaining legislative fidelity to the Constitution. Donohue suggested that the Constitution be amended to require a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court to overturn any law passed by Congress. Never mind First Amendment rights to free speech, the problem is a loose cannon like Donohue speaking to matters of the Constitution as if he is a spokesman for the Catholic Church.
When we speak as Catholics, our inspiration should reside in the Gospels rather than in the utopian schemes, dressed up in religious clothing, of secular political theorists or of the Heritage Foundation. Donohue's claim to speak for all people of faith, in some pitched battle with "the secular left," should be recognized for what it is: one ideologically extreme position, offensive to many faithful Catholics, that worships at the altar of a very secular creed.
Dr. William Donohue, Justice Sunday II, Sunday 14 August 2005
What a pleasure to be here. I feel like I'm really at home. If I had a choice of a room full of Ted Kennedy Irish Catholics like myself and people like you, I'll take you any day.
And the bishop is right. White or black, Protestant or Catholic, Orthodox Jew, we're fed up, we're on the same side. And if the secular left is worried, they should be worried
You know, we got involved in this issue with Judge Pryor a few years ago. And one of my senators, Senator Schumer, was talking about-as Al Mohler said here-"We were wondering about your deeply held beliefs." Well Pryor, unlike Kennedy, happens to be a believer in the Church's teachings on abortion. Deeply held belief is code, people; we all know what it means. It's deeply held "religious" beliefs. And so, Kennedy says "I can't be anti-Catholic…" and Leahy says the same thing, and Durbin says the same thing, "…because I'm Catholic." Oh yes you can. If you reject the teachings of the Catholic Church on abortion, and you raise the bar so high that nobody can jump over it except Catholics like you, Kennedy, then we do have a problem with it. And so they do discriminate."
We have never said that there are Senators who are anti-Christian or anti-Catholic bigots per se. What we've said is this: there isn't a de jure discrimination, but there is de facto. In other words, you've raised the bar so high that you've made it impossible for us to get on the federal bunch. That's a veiled very cute way of saying that there's no place for you.
And you know what I'd like to see…I studied under Sidney Hook, not a member of the religious right, he was a Jewish atheist, and he had a tremendous impact on me in many different ways, a great philosopher. And Sidney Hook noticed this back in 1961. He said, "If you want to do something about judicial activism, you better take a look at the way the court has evolved. Even beginning with the first Supreme Court Justice John Marshall, it was understood that this branch was supposed to be a co-equal. It wasn't supposed to have a veto-proof position the way it has evolved. What he recommended, and I'd like to recommend a national discussion on this issue right now. We need a discussion: do we need a constitutional amendment which would say this: No act of Congress can be overturned by the Supreme Court unless it's a unanimous decision. That'll stop judicial activism right in its track.
You know that may be the micro issue, with this whole business of filibustering. But at the macro level, you know what's at stake. They basically have the attitude, at least with regard to Catholics, their attitude is ‘Tend to little old ladies in the church; let them worry about their rosaries. Don't get involved with the public.' No, we will get involved. We will be disobedient altar boys. We will get involved in our society. And we won't be told to shut-up and give it over to the secular left. Who are they to say that I don't have a right to freedom of speech? That's mentioned in the First Amendment to the Constitution. It's your free speech too. It's everybody's free speech.
And let me tell you something. I resent these remarks, this cacophony of catcalls. They can't deal with us in a democratic way. Senator Frist is absolutely right, "Keep it civil." What do they do? They say, ‘We're going to have a theocracy.' They said the same thing when Bush got elected: ‘We're going to have a theocratic state.' What are we, the Taliban?! These people! They claim to be the high priests of tolerance. And yet they practice intolerance against us. They want to set us up as if we're the radicals.
Let me tell you, and it's not just Catholics and Protestants. Some Orthodox Jews the other day have set up an organization last Thursday, Don Fenner and others, to fight against anti-Christian sentiment in this country. And I asked them, "Why as Jews are you concerned about this issue?" And they said, "Well you know what, to the extent that Christianity is disparaged, that voice, that pro-life voice and this opposition to the most insane idea I ever heard of in my whole life, of two men getting married, I mean what do you…that's something that I expect in the asylum, quite frankly! Look, they're not going to stop us from speaking on this. And these Orthodox Jews have said we have to fight anti-Christian bigotry in this country because if Christians can't get that voice out there in favor of marriage and family and life--the life of a child to be born, and the life of Terri Schiavo to have feeding tubes. Then we're all finished. And so they understand it. Alright? In other words, we've got traditional Catholics, we have Evangelical Protestants, we have Orthodox Jews, and those people on the secular left, they say, "Well, we think you're a threat." Well you know what? They're right. Thank you.