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Yes, it's all Rosie O'Donnell's fault:

O'Donnell wasn't the only one to suggest religion had influenced the justices' approach. The Philadelphia Inquirer published a cartoon Friday entitled "Church and State" that featured the five Catholic members of the court wearing bishop miters.

Joseph Cella, president of the Catholic-based organization Fidelis, called the cartoon "venomous, terribly misleading and blatantly anti-Catholic."

"The Supreme Court did not 'follow marching orders' from the Vatican or the bishops in the United States," Cella said. "Instead, the court deferred to deliberative judgment of the people's elected representatives protected by the Constitution."

But academics, including the former dean of the University of Chicago Law School, also have said the Catholic faith of the five justices influenced their thinking in the case Gonzales vs. Carhart.

"All five justices in the majority in Gonzales are Catholic," wrote Geoffrey Stone, now a professor at the law school, in a faculty blog. "The four justices who either are Protestant or Jewish all voted in accord with settled precedent. It is mortifying to have to point this out. But it is too obvious, and too telling to ignore."

Stone said it was "sad" that the justices in the majority had "failed to respect the fundamental difference between religious belief and morality."

University of Chicago Law School professor Richard Garnett wrote a critical response, saying Stone "misses the mark" in suggesting the justices imposed their religious views on people who do not share their beliefs. Garnett earlier had strongly criticized the Inquirer cartoon.

Garnett said what troubled him was the claim that the justices voted to uphold the ban because they are Catholics "and not because they think, as intelligent and engaged lawyers, that the Constitution does not disable legislatures entirely from regulating what most people (not just Catholics, fideists, and sexists) regard as a particularly gruesome abortion procedure."

As Dr. Suzanne Poppema noted yesterday on the Warren Olney show, she doubts that there are any abortion procedures that would not be considered gruesome and unacceptable to the right-to-lifers.  Medicine is icky, and the notion that women just sashay in and order up a D&E like they would a mocha java latte is nuts.  It's a rarely performed procedure and only a doctor would know if it was medically necessary.  And to classify Kennedy's sexist, patronizing language as that of an "intelligent engaged lawyer" is a bit of a stretch.

I don't know for certain if the five Catholic justices were influenced by their religious beliefs, nobody can, but it's perfectly reasonable to speculate that their decisions — which in Kennedy's case seemed highly emotional, irrational and buying into extreme mysoginistic right-wing canards — may have been influenced by the fact that they subscribe to a faith that thinks abortion is both murder and a mortal sin.  It's not anti-Catholic bigotry and those who want to shut down the conversation by screaming that it is just don't want to argue on the merits because really, they probably have none.

This cartoon posted with express permission to Firedoglake from Tony Auth of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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