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Douglas Kmiec says his greatest intellectual influence is 1960s Jesuit author John Courtney Murray, “who employed natural law as a basis for understanding human rights across time and culture.” Recently, he’s been reading everything from Charles Grodin’s “I Like It Better When You’re Funny” to “Why I Am a Catholic,” by Gary Wills, and Robert George and John Dilulio’s “The Clash of Orthodoxies: Law, Religion, and Morality in Crisis.” An avid public speaker, last month he took on People for the American Way’s Elliot Mincberg at a Federalist Society luncheon in a debate over the Senate’s handling of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees. He criticized the Senate Judiciary Committee’s decision not to send Charles Pickering Sr.’s nomination to a vote in the full Senate. “All idea of constitutional responsibility has been lost,” he said. A handful of his commentaries on terrorism are posted on Catholic University’s Web site. In “Infinite Justice: Military, not Federal Trials, for the Terrorists,” published on Oct. 11, 2001, in National Review, he argues that military trials do not violate civil liberties, calling them “a recognition of well-established precedent.” In a Dec. 9 follow-up Chicago Tribune op-ed piece, titled “The President Is Our Military Chief, Not an Agency Clerk,” he argues, “Claims that military tribunals will trample on civil liberties indulge not precedent or argument, but slogan and rhetoric. The president’s military order does not deny judicial review altogether. It provides for a full and fair trial before disciplined military commanders.” Kmiec, who has written commentary pieces for Legal Times, has also infused his writings with his Catholic beliefs. Titles such as “Is the American Democracy Compatible With the Catholic Faith?” and “Judicial Selection and the Pursuit of Justice: The Unsettled Relationship Between Law and Morality” are common. In a 1997 piece published in Notre Dame’s Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, he tackles affirmative action from a religious perspective. “In the Catholic, if not larger Judeo-Christian tradition, race is morally irrelevant. We are all created in God’s image, and therefore skin color tells us nothing about a person’s intellectual, spiritual, or moral worth,” he writes. “The legal abolition of public affirmative action holds out the ideal of a color-blind society. A society without sin,” he continues. “Because on this earth that society does not, and will not, exist, we are called upon to be individually sensitive to the stereotypes that remain among races. We would do well not to forget, however, that the public law defeats the aspiration for the perfect moral position either when it perpetuates public racial preference or blocks privately-extended racial opportunity.”

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