Sunday, June 8, 2008

More from Conservative Catholic Scholar Doug Kmiec

DOUG KMIEC: Catholic Reasons for Hope in the General Election

By Douglas W. Kmiec

MALIBU, CA (Catholic Online) - Now that the two major parties have identified their nominees for President, Catholics must undertake the serious task of discerning whether there are faith-based reasons to support one candidate over another.

Deacon Keith Fournier has written that he cannot endorse either Senator Obama or Senator McCain at this point. I have endorsed Senator Obama. The distinguished Catholic politics scholar, Robert George of Princeton, has endorsed Senator McCain.

As a matter of Catholic teaching, who’s right? None of us. Who’s wrong? Also, none of us. Catholic teaching simply does not supply a single, definitive answer.

The Catholic Church does not presume to tell citizens how to vote, or endorse particular candidates, but it does outline important moral considerations, including the admonition that no Catholic can choose a candidate for the purpose of advancing a moral evil such as abortion or racism. A Catholic without that intent is free to support either Senator Obama or McCain or anyone.

Deacon Keith Fournier observes that even though Senator Obama “has regularly spoken of and demonstrated in his public interest work a concern for the poor,” he needs “to expand his message of hope to include giving the hope of birth to our littlest neighbors.” From a Catholic perspective, this is sound advice.

Likewise, Deacon Fournier notes in relation to the “support [of] deadly research and experimentation on human embryonic life[,] Senator McCain tries to justify this barbarism with reference to the fact that these human embryos will inevitably die in this unethical research, calling them ‘spare embryos’. We need to help him see the error of that position.” Amen to that as well.

However, in raising “other considerations,” Deacon Fournier comments that “the next occupant of the White House will choose at least one Supreme Court Justice. That choice will, at least in this Constitutional lawyers mind, determine whether the current ‘culture of death’ hiding under the profane precedent of Roe v Wade will take another generation of our children before they are able to breathe our air and be welcomed into our family.”

Those are heart-felt words, but for the reasons discussed below, they assume – mistakenly – what the overturning of Roe would actually mean. Given that abortion is an intrinsic evil without justification, thinking the overturning of Roe “solves” the abortion problem, when it does not, can mislead Catholics into the erroneous conclusion that any candidate unwilling to pledge reversal of Roe is categorically unworthy of support. I suspect that this is why the Deacon “dreads” the beginning of the campaign since both of the major candidates fall short of the Catholic ideal on the issue of the protection of human life.

So let’s examine the nettlesome tragedy of abortion and the insufficient approaches of both candidates to date. Senator Obama’s position accepts the existing legal regime which leaves the abortion decision with the mother as a “constitutional right.” Senator McCain's position would leave the decision with the individual states. Neither position is fully pro-life, both are pro-choice, with the former focused on the individual and the latter focused on the right of the states. Senator McCain's position is sometimes described as pro-life, but in truth, it is merely pro-federalism (states being free under the McCain position to decide to permit or disallow abortion as they see fit).

Independent of my Catholic faith, as a constitutional law teacher, I respectfully disagree with both Senator Obama and Senator McCain since the Constitution was intended as a means to enforce and guarantee the unalienable right to life recited in the Declaration of Independence, where of course it is explicitly traced to our Creator. Since neither candidate presents a position fully compatible with Catholic teaching recognizing abortion for the intrinsic evil that it is, Catholic teaching asks us to work for the reduction of the incidence of abortion through the most prudent way possible.

There is no single answer on the most effective manner to reduce abortion either. My experience, and that of others whom I greatly respect for their tireless efforts in parish work and with Project Rachel and Catholic pregnancy centers, suggest that Senator Obama’s emphasis on personal responsibility (conveying especially to young people the need to understand the maturity and commitment needed for sexual intimacy) is the course most likely to make a difference.

I respect the views of my fellow Catholics who would place greater emphasis upon new legal prohibition or restriction, but my experience is that the more effective way to actually protect life is to work directly face to face with someone facing the awful thought of taking an innocent life. This is imperfect I know, but this path calls upon us – personally – to meet as best one is able the social and economic and religious reassurance needed by the individual children of God (mother and unborn child) that touch our lives.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver rightly reminds Catholics that whether we favor personal or legal efforts to reduce abortion or some combination, our efforts must be more than just talk and that Catholics must "keep lobbying their party and their representatives to change their pro-abortion views and protect the unborn"? Again, sound advice. All Catholics regardless of party or preferred candidate are instructed by Evangelium Vitae to work for greater recognition and respect for the culture of life.

Since neither of the major political parties have acceptable positions, lobbying -- and a good deal of prayer -- is required to be directed for them both.

Again, it is my own conclusion that Senator Obama would be more open to these considerations since he is more dedicated toward reducing the partisanship of the past, has very responsibly and very consistently called upon our better natures, and has articulated -- long before he sought the presidency -- a genuine appreciation for the importance of faith in the public square. Others will find greater potential in Senator McCain’s personal life experience as an adoptive father. Obama or McCain, Catholics must always give each other the benefit of the doubt that in reaching our conclusion, we stand upon the common ground of deepening the protection of human life.

Which ever candidate ultimately merits our approval, we should break out of the complacency of the past that seems to be inspired by thinking that we are merely one vote away from protecting life if only the right candidate “controls” the composition of the Supreme Court.

First, I think it's wrong to understand court appointments in this fashion as it indulges the pernicious notion of the rule of men rather than the rule of law. But, putting that law teacher's objection to one side, in truth, there is not a single member of the present Court willing to affirm the unalienable right to life from the moment of conception, as opposed to merely reversing a single court decision such as Roe, which, as best as I can tell, would directly save no unborn life.

Thus, we are actually nine votes away from the Catholic position, and that in itself is enough to convince me that change on the Supreme Court, after 20-some long years of working for and praying for such change, cannot be the only way in which respect for life is expressed.

So why then be filled with hope, rather than dread, as the general campaign begins in earnest? Because intelligently informed writing on this site and more widely between pro-life Republicans and pro-life Democrats is occurring at an unprecedented and civilized level.

My unfortunate experience of being denied communion by a well-meaning, but theologically mistaken, college chaplain is the exception, not the rule. The present thoughtful discussion has been inspired most directly by the American Catholic bishops and their very helpful discussion in a “Call for Faithful Citizenship,” which is recommended reading for all Catholics in the United States before they exercise the franchise.

This document building upon the teaching of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, reminds us that our obligation as Catholics extends well beyond any single issue, even as there are some, like abortion and racism that we can never accept.

The bishops’ discussion reveals that it is possible to understand that there is often more than one way to address, and reduce the incidence of, an intrinsic moral evil without in any way endorsing that evil.

The on-going intelligent and civil discussion also allows us to grasp how no candidate who merely checks a pro-life box in a superficial way should be permitted to blind us from the balance of Catholic social teaching, including the strengthening of the family with a family wage and tax structure that is responsive to the needs of the average family; the ending of an unjust and disproportionate war; the care and stewardship of the human environment; and the structuring of society to look after the most vulnerable among us, including especially the elderly, the poor, and of course those whose voice can only be heard through ours.

May God bless our efforts and our nation, as our founders said in settling this land, “so long as we keep His covenant.”

Doug Kmiec, Chair and Professor of Constitutional Law, Pepperdine University; former Dean and St. Thomas More Professor, The Catholic University of America


Rustler45 said...

He's obviously not conservative.

sean said...

If Reagan's pal Kmiec is not a conservative, then conservativism is a marginal political movement.

Rustler45 said...

You obviously are totally ignorant of what "conservative" means as an opposite term to "liberal" which you probably don't know either.

Being conservative means believing in absolutes. Kmiec doesn't believe in absolutes and therefore cannot claim to be conservative.

Conservatism, has to do with realism (another philosophical term). Absolute truth (i.e., the Ten Commandments.

Liberalism, embodies pragmatism, eclecticism, and idealism (philosophical terms) which means that you have a right to believe anything you want to believe. Relativism (i.e., the Ten Suggestions.

Do you understand any of this Sean? And don't lie to me and tell me you do when you don't because the slightest amount of discussion will prove you are lying. As a matter of fact your statement about Kmiec already reveals that you don't know what you're talking about.

If a person believes that you, as a Catholic, have a right to vote for Obama you are a liberal. Hence, Kmiec is a liberal no matter what conservative issues he backs at other times. He thinks opinion matters.

Marie-Elsie said...

Who do we for in November? Do we sit out this election because neither canditates are pro-life. However, one is offering the alternative path of personal responsibility and education as a way of reducing abortion; the other one does not offer any alternatives. I remember receiving sex education and birth control practices (rhythm method only) in my catholic school at 14 years old from a married couple who emphasized the sanctity of marriage and intimacy. However, it was too late for my classmate who had gotten pregnant. She had to drop out of school in the 9th grade. This is not a fate I want for any child. Parents need to be frank with their children concerning their sexual activities and emphasize personal responsibility. Like my father used to say "Don't get pregnant because I am not taking care of you and the baby".

Marie-Elsie said...

I meant who do we vote for

Marie-Elsie said...

Then 99% of the world are liberals by your definition since not many people believe or live in absolute truth.

sean said...


I do believe every enfranchised American, Catholic or not, has the right to vote for Obama, McCain or whatever other candidate they decide. And while I would disagree with the philosophy, I certainly see the great benefit for my side in this election if all of those voters who believe they have the right to vote either for McCain or Obama are rejected by the McCain campaign.

Rustler, Katherine is right, letting you post is one of the best things the Obama campaign has going for it.

Rustler45 said...

MARIE SAID: Then 99% of the world are liberals by your definition since not many people believe or live in absolute truth.

Marie, only Catholics, do you not understand that to be a Catholic you have to live in absolutes of truth? That's why we have confession. That's why Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

Jesus is absolute. Jesus is Truth.
Truth is absolute. Do you not grasp this concept?

Rustler45 said...

SEAN IGNORANTLY SAID: I do believe every enfranchised American, Catholic or not, has the right to vote for Obama, McCain or whatever other candidate they decide.

RUSTLER EXPLAINS: Well there you go Sean, thinking that opinion is fact. You can believe all you want, but that makes nothing so.

You have no such right to vote for immoral politics or politicians.

I bet you have no concept of where rights come from. You don't have a clue do you?

Mark said...

marie-elsie & Sean
Good Post!
Peace be with you...
Obama 08'

Rustler45 said...

Mark, go have your mama change your diapers.

sean said...

"You can believe all you want, but that makes nothing so."

Maybe not. But telling people they have no right to vote is a sure losing strategy for McCain. I'm sure you rather be right than see your guy president, and you may get your wish.

Rustler45 said...

I just read the whole article. My answers to it will be forthcoming.

I see that my first instinct is correct. He is one mixed up man. He is a liberal and doesn't even know it.

He also isn't very bright for being a "scholar." He's no more informed as to his Catholic faith than are Marie, Sean, and Mark. Betty is another matter altogether.

Rustler45 said...

Ya know Markie, you don't pay very close attention.

Rustler45 said...

"I bet you have no concept of where rights come from. You don't have a clue do you?"

You didn't answer this question Sean. Why not?

Don't know do you?

It's really really simple, but then so are you.

Mark said...

O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father: YOU who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. YOU who take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. You Who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. FOR YOU ALONE ARE HOLY, You ALONE are the Lord. You ALONE, O Jesus Christ, are most high. Together with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Rustler45 said...

Hey Mark, Your prayer is just so much batting your wings at the air. It's kind of hypocritical for an apostate to be praying. Oh I forgot it's in public for the recognition. I think Jesus said something about that.

It wasn't good.

And you weren't able to answer my question either were you?

Anonymous said...

The following represents the views of Bill Brown, a highly respected retired member of the Billy Graham team.

Just Some of What Defines Barack Obama:

He voted against banning partial ' birth abortion.

He voted no on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions.

Supports affirmative action in Colleges and Government.

In 2001 he questioned harsh penalties for drug dealing. Says he will deal with street level drug dealing as minimum wage affair.

Admitted marijuana and cocaine use in high school and in college.

His religious convictions are very murky.

He is willing to meet with Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Kim Jung Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Has said that one of his first goals after being elected would be to have a conference with all Muslim nations.

He opposed the Patriot Act.

The first bill he signed on to was campaign finance reform.

Voted No on prohibiting law suits against gun manufacturers.

Supports universal health-care.

Voted yes on providing habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees.

Supports granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

Supports extending welfare to illegal immigrants.

Voted yes on comprehensive immigration reform.

Voted yes on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security.

Wants to make the minimum wage a 'living wage'.

Voted with Democratic Party 96 percent of 251 votes.

Is a big believer in the separation of church and state.

Opposed to any efforts to privatize Social Security and instead supports increasing the amount of tax paid.

He voted No on repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax.

He voted No on repealing the 'Death' Tax.

He wants to raise the Capital Gains Tax.

Has repeatedly said the surge in Iraq has not succeeded.

He is ranked as the most liberal Senator in the Senate today and that takes some doing.

Kurt said...

Supports affirmative action in Colleges and Government.

and so does the Catholic Church.

In 2001 he questioned harsh penalties for drug dealing. Says he will deal with street level drug dealing as minimum wage affair.

and so does the Catholic Church

Admitted marijuana and cocaine use in high school and in college.

And so has George W. Bush

His religious convictions are very murky.

They are much more firm than John McCain, who can't remember what denomination he belongs to.

He is willing to meet with Fidel Castro, ..

and so has the Pope.

He opposed the Patriot Act.

And so do I.

The first bill he signed on to was campaign finance reform.

That would be the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act.

Voted No on prohibiting law suits against gun manufacturers.

And so has the Catholic Church. (Why should anyone be exempt from lawsuits? Can I get excused from every having suits filed against me?)

Supports universal health-care.

And so has the Catholic Church -- n fact, they bishops were the first to suggest this.

Voted yes on providing habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees.

and so has the Catholic Church

Voted yes on comprehensive immigration reform.

And so has the Catholic Church and John McCain.

Wants to make the minimum wage a 'living wage'.

And so does the Catholic Church, which invented the term "living wage"

Opposed to any efforts to privatize Social Security


He voted No on repealing the [Estate Tax for multi-millionaires] Tax.


Rustler45 said...

Kurt, you don't know what you are talking about. The only thing you mentioned that is actually "supported" by The Catholic Church is a living wage. And no where does the Church specify that minimum wage must be a living wage.

Otherwise you get zero on the rest. For example the Church has said no such thing about the unfair practices found in affirmative action.

The USCCB is not The Catholic Church. It is some bishops and that's all. Just because a few bishops express their opinion doesn't make a ruling by the Catholic Church. So quit saying "The Catholic Church."

If you disagree you're going to have to document every one.

Otherwise you're just another Marxist dunce who thinks he's found Liberation Theology.

Rustler45 said...

Anonymous, we could care less what some liberal protestant named Bill Brown thinks.

Rustler45 said...

Not one of you mental midgets dares answer my question about where rights come from. It's because you don't know. You don't know what the Church teaches about it. You don't know what documents of the U.S. deal with it. You don't know any court cases that provide international precedence for human right.

You, so far have put up a smoke screen to ignore my question. And that's all.

Have fun with your anti-Catholic Marxist candidate for president.

Anonymous said...

Obama's Abortion Bombshell: Unrestricted Abortion Over Wishes of Individual States a Priority for Presidency

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 10, 2008 ( - Barack Obama, the presumptive pro-abortion nominee of the Democratic Party, has plans to reward the allies that helped him topple Hillary Clinton from her throne by making total unrestricted abortion in the United States his number one priority as president.

In light of Obama's recently achieved status as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Focus on the Family's CitizenLink has decided to remind its supporters that almost one year has passed since Obama made his vows to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund that abortion would be the first priority of his administration.

"The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act," Obama said in his July speech to abortion advocates worried about the increase of pro-life legislation at the state level.

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is legislation Obama has co-sponsored along with 18 other senators that would annihilate every single state law limiting or regulating abortion, including the federal ban on partial birth abortion.

The 2007 version of FOCA proposed: "It is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child, to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability, or to terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability when necessary to protect the life or health of the woman."

Obama made his remarks in a question-and-answer session after delivering a speech crystallizing for abortion advocates his deep-seated abortion philosophy and his belief that federal legislation will break pro-life resistance and end the national debate on abortion. (see transcript:

"I am absolutely convinced that culture wars are so nineties; their days are growing dark, it is time to turn the page," Obama said in July. "We want a new day here in America. We're tired about arguing about the same ole' stuff. And I am convinced we can win that argument."

Besides making abortion on demand a "fundamental right" throughout the United States, FOCA would effectively nullify informed consent laws, waiting periods, health safety regulations for abortion clinics, etc.

Furthermore, medical professionals and institutions that refused abortions also would lose legal protections. FOCA would expose individuals, organizations, and governments - including federal, state, and local government agencies - to costly civil actions for purported violations of the act.

"Thirty-five years after Roe, abortion supporters, like Senator Obama, are dismayed that abortion remains a divisive issue and that their radical agenda has not been submissively accepted by the American public," states Denise M. Burke, vice president of Americans United for Life.

"Rather than confronting legitimate issues concerning the availability and safety of abortion, they choose to blatantly ignore the concerns and interests of everyday Americans, as well as the growing evidence that abortion hurts women."

Hillary Clinton, once the longtime Democratic front-runner and anticipated abortion president, conceded defeat last Saturday to Obama, who captured the nomination from her after a long and bitter campaign.

Obama has won the crucial endorsement of abortion activist Frances Kissling, who broke from the ranks of other radical feminist leaders earlier this year to endorse Obama, saying Obama, not Clinton, would better use the bully pulpit of the presidency to accomplish their aims and end the culture wars over abortion.

See related links:

Sen. Barack Obama's July 17, 2007 Speech to Planned Parenthood (transcript):

Video footage of Obama's speech can be obtained here:

Senate version of FOCA:

House version of FOCA:

See related coverage by

Barack Obama Wrests Pro-Abortion Pro-Gay Standard of Democratic Party from Hillary Clinton

Editorial: The Hope of a Sophist: The Rhetoric of Barack Obama

Obama: "Biggest Mistake" Was Vote to Help Terri Schiavo

Obama says Sermon on the Mount Supports Same-Sex Unions

"Philosopher of Abortion Movement" Says Obama A Better Choice than Hillary

Catholic Priest Has Only Glowing Praise for Pro-Abortion, Pro-Homosexual Marriage Candidate Barack Obama

Obama on the March to Claim Victory Over Hillary

Obama potential vp pick is most extreme pro-abortion Catholic governor
Columnist Rovert Novak calls her "the national pro-choice poster girl."

Archbishop Chaput to Obama Catholics: If You're Serious Catholics, You'll Be Serious About Making Your Candidate Pro-Life, Not Editing My Words

Obama Supports Sex-Education in Kindergarten, Romney Strikes Back

Rustler45 said...

Hey anonymous, you are definitely laboring under the misconception that these Pro-obamas are against abortion.

They are actually left wing fanatics who support all of Ohmamas Marxist plans to enslave America.

There is not one pro Catholic point in his agenda and neither in theirs.

Anonymous said...


Are you a Catholic Christian? If so, why do you insist on belittling and insulting people by calling them "ignorant," "mental midgets," etc.? Your belittling of Prof. Kmiec is a good example. May I ask for your educational credentials?

Rustler45 said...

ANONYMOUS ASKS: Are you a Catholic Christian?


ANONYMOUS ASKS: If so, why do you insist on belittling and insulting people by calling them "ignorant," "mental midgets," etc.?

RUSTLER REPLIES: Because they are.

ANONYMOUS ASKS: Your belittling of Prof. Kmiec is a good example.

RUSTLER REPLIES: H deserves belittling and a lot more.

ANONYMOUS ASKS: May I ask for your educational credentials?


Rustler45 said...

Hey Anon, where do rights come from?

Anonymous said...

It depends on what type of right you're talking about. Can you clarify?

Rustler45 said...

"It depends on what type of right you're talking about. Can you clarify?"


shiloh said...

Hey rustler45, 16 out of 30 posts, you realize you are monopolizing the conversation, of course that's assuming anyone is actually reading your posts.

btw, I have personally saved you a seat on the Obama Love Train!

All aboard ...

take care

Murphdog said...

With respect to Prof. Kmiec, his argument begins and is steeped in moral relativism. "Who's right? None of us. Who's Wrong? Also none of us?" Huh?

He's an educated man no doubt, but much like his candidate, he has "out thought" himself. Like Obama, since he professes not to know the answer, he gets lost in a cul de sac.

Prof. Kmiec, you define the phrase, "if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything".

Prof. Kmiec's personal liking for Obama as a person evades the man's record of action. What matters is not necessarily what Obama claims to personally feel about topics. What matters are his record and his votes.

It's all well and good to assume the man means well, and certainly every Catholic has the right to vote their conscience. Of course, they are answerable to their own conscience as well. While he may 'feel' that Obama means well and takes his word for it, it betrays the fact that if Obama really finds abortion morally repugnant, he ALSO would work to oppose it within his own party, rather than campaign aggressively for it, which he has done and radically to the left of even most pro-abortionists.

Presidents decide issues of macro-importance, guided by their personal values. What Obama says and what he does are consistently at odds. To support Obama means to support adherance to his radical record - pro-death in every circumstance - that has been and will continue to be his record.

Prof. Kmiec dismissed Bishop Chaput's very correct argument: "Abortion is a foundational issue; it is not an issue like housing policy or the price of foreign oil. It always involves the intentional killing of an innocent life, and it is always, grievously wrong".

Endorsing a candidate who will knowingly and enthusiastically oppose stripping federal funding for abortion is incompatible with the Catholic faith.