Friday, September 26, 2008

Professor Kmiec's Book on Obama and Catholic Voting

A groundbreaking argument on abortion, Catholicism, and the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama. . .

With an Introduction by Martin Sheen

“Doug Kmiec's Can a Catholic Support Him? may very well become the most important comprehensive document written to date on American Catholics, abortion, and candidates for public office." - Martin Sheen

On April 18, 2008, Douglas W. Kmiec was denied communion at a Catholic Mass in Westlake, California. Ironically, Kmiec had been invited by a Catholic business group to give an address on the Bishop’s teaching of “Faithful Citizenship.” Having taught law at Notre Dame and the Catholic University of America, Kmiec had served as head of the Office of Legal Counsel for both Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, representing his Catholic faith openly in the White House. But now he found himself rejected by his church—simply for endorsing the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama.

In Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Question about Barack Obama (The Overlook Press / $12.00 / ISBN: 978 -1-58567-204-3 / September 15, 2008) Kmiec offers a thoughtful explanation of his rationale. He addresses the difficult questions at the core of his decision to endorse Obama, opening up the debate to a host of questions about faith and politics in general. Can a Catholic support a Pro-Choice candidate? Can there be a reverence for life that embraces a larger set of values? How does a Catholic citizen balance his obligations to his church and his community? In asking these questions, Kmiec’s personal choice strikes at the heart of the abortion debate, challenging the partisan interests that provoke a false rift between the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party. Kmiec confronts those Republicans who benefit from setting Democrats and Catholics at opposite ends of the political spectrum, disproving the myths these Republican Faith Partisans perpetuate.

In Kmiec’s innovative argument, the idea of Pro-Life extends far beyond a single Supreme Court Justice, as Senator McCain would have us believe. Catholics cannot sacrifice the primacy of human life by remaining devoted to a “single issue.” The Catholic argument must encompass the ways in which we as a community resolve to protect and nourish that life. In endorsing Obama, Kmiec has not betrayed his faith but rather, he has run up against a group of Republicans who have peddled the vocabulary of the Catholic faith to further partisan interests. Kmiec maintains that it is time for this issue to get the thoughtful treatment it deserves, beyond party rhetoric and self-interested proclamations.

This inquiry could not have come at a better time. Catholics have been undeniably influential in deciding the nation’s president: making up roughly one fourth of the electorate, they have weighed in on the side of the top vote-getter in the last nine presidential elections. Can a Catholic Support Him? is at once a legal and religious treatise, and a sincere and personal journey of faith. It will be an irreplaceable contribution to the debate in 2008 and beyond.

Douglas W. Kmiec is the Caruso Family Chair and Professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University's School of Law. He served as head of the Office of Legal Counsel for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. For nearly two decades, he was a member of the law faculty as well as Director of the Thomas White Center on Law & Government at the University of Notre Dame, where he founded the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy. The former Dean and St. Thomas More Professor of the law school at The Catholic University of America, he is a frequent guest in the media on programs analyzing constitutional, cultural, and political developments. He and his wife, Carolyn Keenan Kmiec, have five children. They live in Malibu, California.

Martin Sheen is a Catholic activist for peace and justice; he has numerous acting credits on the stage and on the large and small screens, including the leading role in NBC’s highly acclaimed West Wing.

By Douglas W. Kmiec
Published by The Overlook Press
Paperback, $12.00
ISBN: 978-1-58567-204-3
Publication Date: September 15, 2008
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