I have previously criticized the procedure employed by the Editorial Board of the Law Tribune in publishing editorials. There are some level-headed and responsible members on that board, but there are also those (the ones who seem to keep hanging on and never leave) who exploit that to throw darts from behind a veil. When Law Tribune columnists speak out, readers know whose opinion it is. I, Norm Pattis, Dan Krisch and others do not write anonymously or employ pseudonyms. We do not hide behind somebody or something else.
The Editorial Board’s procedure permits just that. It allows for a single member to author an opinion, and get it published under the aegis of the entire board, so long as she gets a minimum number of votes approving it.
Who do you charge, then, with hypocrisy or lack of ideological integrity? A nameless, faceless scribe?
The recent editorial on the annual “Red Mass” conducted by St. Matthews Cathedral in Washington, D.C. is a perfect example. It was a thinly disguised shot at the Catholic Church, and by an author who took pains to avoid charges of bigotry by throwing in some weak counterweights. Who instigated that? A Catholic? A non-Catholic? Who voted to publish it? Who had a problem with it? Who abstained? Who had a problem with it but was too cowardly to say something? Does the board’s procedure allow a bigot to sling crud while enjoying anonymity?
St. Matthews Cathedral has a long and distinguished history. It was founded in 1840. It is named for Saint Matthew, designated as the patron saint of civil servants — thus, the annual Red Mass at which government officials of all sorts are invited, including Supreme Court justices, members of Congress, the president’s Cabinet, diplomatic corps, and local municipal, state and national government leaders. Occasionally, a president attends.
Not so much because I suspect the identity of the board member who instigated this editorial, I’ll refer herein to this editorialist as “she.” And she goes beyond suggesting justices should rethink their attendance at the Red Mass. She suggests the Catholic Church itself is wrong to promote the mass and encourage attendance at it. On this latter point, she needs cover, and thus cites the views of Barry Lynn, leader of the radical Americans United for Separation of Church and State, rather than make the point herself. What was the matter? Was she afraid to directly make that argument herself? She needs to mention that someone else suggests this, without directly suggesting it herself? That was revealing, and cowardly.
That editorial had nothing to do with legitimate concerns about “appearances” or separation of church and state. It was selectively directed at the Catholic Church because of the adverse stance the church takes on issues dear to liberals. If the Red Mass was an event at which priests invoked scripture in support of same-sex marriage (as some Protestant pastors do), we would not have seen an editorial criticizing the ceremony, and everybody knows it.
We have some pastors taking to their pulpits clamoring for strict gun control, legislators and judges among their congregants. Got a problem with that? You haven’t said anything….
The editorialist is genuinely concerned about the separation of church and state? Where was she when former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (in that official capacity) took to the public airwaves to urge clergy to use their pulpits to bring pressure on legislators to pass Obamacare (on the premise that the legislation furthered biblical and Christian principles)? What does she think of the fact that the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many other black pastors led the push for civil rights legislation from their pulpits?
Or the fact that many elected government officials, including presidents and candidates, have attended King’s still-existing church, locked arms with parishioners, and clapped through undeniably political sermons? Most “separation of church and state” whiners have no problem when the clerics mix it up with judges and politicians to advance the liberal policy agenda. The Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson get passes from the “separation” crowd all the time.
The editorialist ignores her backyard. What does she say about those churches whose pastors formed a political lobbying organization, under the guise of “social justice” theology. Most recently, they launched a controversial campaign to lobby state legislators to grant drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens. These clerics don’t stick to reading psalms at their services. They preach politics, aware that judges and legislators are among those in the pews. Got a problem with that?
When it comes to the Catholic Church’s Red Mass, however (at which no liberal political screeds issue from the pulpit), the editorial asks the leading question, “Does attendance tend to erode the separation of church and state…?” Oh please. The editorial is so skin deep. It ignores what is obvious to a dolt. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a Catholic, is not going to consider overruling Roe v. Wade because a priest mentions the “sanctity of life” as a Catholic value at a Red Mass. (It didn’t move Justice William Brennan, did it?).
If the Editorial Board writer is truly concerned about U.S. Supreme Court justices creating a problem of “appearances,” I suggest she opine on the propriety of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s permitting the NOW Legal Defense Fund to use her name, give her awards, and name its lecture series after her. NOW is a frequent litigant and legal advocate in women’s “rights” cases that come before Justice Ginsburg, who agreed to deliver a lecture to NOW lawyers at the very time she was ruling on a case in which NOW appeared as amicus counsel.
Come out from behind your veil, you hypocrite.•