Thursday, January 26, 2006

Opposing Alito from a Christian Perspective

We seem to be reaching crunch time for the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is not clear that opponents will muster enough votes to filibuster the nomination, but I think they should try. And we should push them from the grassroots. (If we won't filibuster the far-right extremist Alito, then who would we filibuster?) I've been disappointed by the lack of visible Christian opposition to Alito. While leading figures on the Christian Right scarcely conceal their delight with the nomination (see here for one example), we need to get the message out there that Alito is a VERY BAD nominee from a Christian point of view.

Now I'm not saying that faithful Christianity should in any way determine who should be appointed to a secular office like the U.S. Supreme Court. On the contrary, I am very worried about eroding the bedrock principle of separating church and state that has served both so well in U.S. history. I'm really speaking to my fellow Christians out there, imploring us all to stop thinking of Alito as someone who would uphold or defend Christian values on the Court. I often get that impression from the support he receives from self-proclaimed Christian organizations.

The reality is, Alito has repeatedly demonstrated his contempt for the values I hold dear, which stem from my Christian faith. For example, one of the bedrock values of Christianity, in my view, is the equality of all people in the world in the eyes of God, regardless of race, sex, etc. Yet Alito has ruled many times against civil rights measures on such issues as voting rights and job discrimination. If we want to create a society with Christian values, we should not be eroding basic protections of equal rights for everyone. For another example, take the Family and Medical Leave Act, which defends "family values" at the practical level by making it possible for women to bear children without suffering employment discrimination. Yet Alito apparently opposed compelling states to enforce it. You can basically go down the list of issues--environmental protection, people power vs. corporate power, regulating the possession of dangerous machine guns, etc.--and find Alito on the WRONG side from a Christian perspective.

My point is that anyone who supports Alito's confirmation because of his "Christian values" might want to rethink such a position to avoid being swindled by Alito's far right, extremist promoters. Yet many people will stick with Alito because of his position on a single issue such as abortion. Yet the Gospel of Christ is about far, far more than abortion, and we cannot let that one issue blind us to the much larger scary realities about Alito's record. Even abortion is not as clear cut of an issue as many Christians might think. While probably all Christians have some misgivings about abortion and want there to be fewer abortions performed, not all of us think that we should (or even could) accomplish that by banning it. (For a compelling, heartfelt commentary on this subject, see the recent blog by my friend Tess over at Arch Words.) Would Jesus want us to dedicate our energy to overturning Roe v. Wade? I'm not so sure. Based on my reading of the Bible, I'm almost certain that Jesus would be standing out there defending the poor, the marginalized, and pushing for equal rights for all. And I'm pretty sure that would often put him at odds with Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

Note: I got some of my information about Alito's positions on various issues from this website.