By Fr. George Welzbacher
June 14, 2009
Death can come suddenly, with little or no warning: from a heart attack, from random gunfire, from an explosion or from crossing a street as a motorist runs a red light. The brilliant novelist (and lapsed Catholic) John Gregory Dunne, whose reporting of the O.J. Simpson murder trial was a journalistic tour de force, was once quoted to the effect that he didn't feel any need for the Church, though maybe on his deathbed he might call for a priest. The opportunity to do so was never offered. Halfway through a sentence, in the middle of a conversation with his wife (another brilliant writer, Joan Didion), he was felled by an aneurism in the brain. There had been no premonitory symptoms.
Other examples abound. All of us were saddened by the recent and not yet fully explained catastrophe that sent two-hundred and twenty-eight people to their "sudden and unprovided death". When they boarded that plane in Rio de Janeiro they had no idea that the clock was ticking away their final minutes, their final seconds, until the summons came for a very different journey. And after that the Judgment.
And then there was the event two Sundays ago that is now being exploited to the hilt by the warriors of the Anti-Life Crusade, seeking to vilify and to discredit the entire pro-life cause. I am referring of course to the murder of the abortionist George Tiller, who over the course of 35 years, in the name of bringing "help" to women, killed an estimated 60,000 defenseless infants. In terms of the destruction of human life that's a record that surpasses by some eight thousand the Nazi kill rate at Buchenwald, the camp at which our President recently voiced his condenmation of systematic murder. In his tong career of murdering viable babies Dr. Tiller, a one- man death camp in his own right, became, many times over, a millionaire. As a specialist in late-terin abortion (one of only three in the entire U.S.A.) he usually charged a six thousand dollar fee. He was gunned down without warning in a Wichita, Kansas-Lutheran Church as he was handing out church bulletins.
What has happened to others can happen to me, can happen to you. It is the essence of wisdom to "live each day as if you knew it to be your last." One of those days such will it be. In the spirit of Christian charity it has long been a practice among the devout to pray for those who were called that day to God's judgment, and to remember in particular those who, it may be, in their very last moment of consciousness, in repudiation of a life of sin, cried out for God's forgiveness. In recognition of which possibility it makes sense to pray even for those whose hands and consciences were drenched with the blood of the innocent. And especially let's keep in our prayers for many days to come the passengers and crew who went down with that plane!
* * * * *By now it's pretty obvious that Judge Sonia Sotomayor, if confirmed by the Senate in her bid to be enthroned on the U. S. Supreme Court, will show, as Senator Dianne Feinstein discreetly put it, a great respect for precedent. Let him who reads understand. And when, as is likely to be the case over the next few years, other openings on the Court appear, only those who profess allegiance to Roe v. Wade will plausibly be on the list of potential nominees, given President Obama's embrace of the "abortion rights" cause as attested by his public statements, by his legislative record, and by the appointments he has made and some of the initiatives he nas undertaken since taking the oath of office. Oddly the very argument that he himself advanced in a speech from the floor of the U.S. Senate subverts his advocacy of abortion. This was a speech voicing opposition to the candidacy of John Roberts (now our Chief Justice) for a seat on the High Court. The principle that lies at the core of (the then Senator) Obama's argument against Mr. Roberts compels in strict logic a conclusion supporting the pro-life position. Senator Obaina opposed Mr. Roberts' candidacy on the grounds that: 1) Every decent person finds bullies hateful, bullies being the strong who prey upon the weak; and 2) Mr. Roberts, for all his brilliance and prodigious erudition, is in effect, in Mr. Obama's view, a bully, in that the record purportedly shows that Mr. Roberts sided consistently with the strong and against the weak.
This argument backfires, since, in Mr. Obama's espousal of the pro-abortion cause, he himself is siding WITH the strong and is AGAINST the weak. After all, who is more "weak' than an unborn child, trapped, as it were, inside the womb and utterly without means of defense? And in the abortion "procedure" just who is it who enjoys the advantage of strength?
Here are Mr. Obama's own words, as found in excerpts (printed in the Wall Street Journal, for June 2, 2009), from the speech that he gave in September, 2005, opposing Judge Roberts' candidacy for the High Court.
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Why Obama Voted Against Roberts
A Wall Street Journal Editorial for June 2, 2009
...I am sorely tempted to vote for Judge Roberts based on my study of his résumé, his conduct during the hearings, and a conversation I had with him yesterday afternoon. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind Judge Roberts is qualified to sit on the highest court in the land. Moreover, he seems to have the comportment and the temperament that makes for a good judge. He is humble, he is personally decent, and he appears to be respectful of different points of view.
It is absolutely clear to me that Judge Roberts truly loves the law. He couldn't have achieved his excellent record as an advocate before the Supreme Court without that passion for the law, and it became apparent to me in our conversation that he does, in fact, deeply respect the basic precepts that go into deciding 95% of the cases that come before the federal court--adherence to precedent, a certain modesty in reading statutes -and constitutional text, a respect for procedural regularity, and an impartiality in presiding over the adversarial system All of these characteristics make me want to vote for Judge Roberts.
The problem I face-a problem that has been voiced by some of my other colleagues, both those who are voting for Mr. Roberts and those who are voting against Mr. Roberts-is that while adherence to legal precedent and rules of statutory or constitutional construction will dispose of 95% of the cases-what matters on the Supreme Court is those 5% of cases that are truly difficult.
In those cases adherence to precedent and rules of construction and interpretation will only get you through the 25th mile of the marathon. That last mile can only be determined on the basis of one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one's empathy.
In those 5% of hard cases, the constitutional text will not be directly on point. The language of the statute will not be perfectly clear. Legal process alone will not lead you to a rule of decision. In those circumstances, your decisions about whether affirmative action is an appropriate response to the history of discrimination in this country, or whether a general right of privacy encompasses a more specific right of women to control their reproductive decisions, or whether the Commerce Clause empowers Congress to speak on those issues of broad national concern that may be only tangentially related to what is easily defined as interstate commerce, whether a person who is disabled has the right to be accommodated so they can work alongside those who are non-disabled-in those difficult cases, the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart.
I talked to Judge Roberts about this. Judge Roberts confessed that, unlike maybe professional politicians, it is not easy for him to talk about his values and his deeper feelings. That is not how he is trained. He did say he doesn't like bullies and has always viewed the law as a way of evening out the playing field between the strong and the weak.
I was impressed with that statement because I view the law in much the same way. THE PROBLEM I HAD is that when I examined Judge Roberts' record and history of public service, it is my personal estimation that he has far more often used his formidable skills ON BEHALF OF THE STRONG IN OPPOSITION TO THE WEAK. In his work in the White House and the Solicitor General's Office, he seemed to have consistently sided with those who were dismissive of efforts to eradicate the remnants of RACIAL DISCRIMINATION in our political process. In these same positions, he seemed dismissive of the concerns that it is harder to make it in this world and in this economy when you are a WOMAN rather than a man.
I WANT to take Judge Roberts at his word that he doesn't like bullies and he sees the law and the court as a means of evening the playing field between the strong and the weak. BUT given the gravity of the position to which he will undoubtedly ascend and the gravity of the decisions in which he will undoubtedly participate during his tenure on the court, I ultimately have to give more weight to his deeds and the overarching political philosophy that he appears to have shared with those in power than to the assuring words that he provided me in our meeting.
The bottom line is this: I will be voting against John Roberts' nomination....[Emphasis added].
* * * * *President Obama's commitment to the abortionist cause may well be inspired by a misdirected sense of compassion. In 1990, during his presidency of the Harvard Law Review, he contributed to the Review no article of his own but he did attach as a footnote to another writer's essay a comment (Volume III, HLR 1990) to the effect that unrestricted access to abortion would facilitate "preventing increasing numbers of children from being bom into lives of pain and despair."
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