In a story on assisted suicide that ran nationwide on March 10, the Associated Press cited the religion of a federal judge who voted to uphold a Washington law  barring doctors from engaging in assisted suicide.  The judge in question is Judge  John T. Noonan of the Ninth Circuit, and the sentence in question is the following: “Judge Noonan was an anti-abortion legal theoretician and Catholic scholar before his appointment to the bench by President Reagan in 1986.”

Commenting on this is Catholic League president William Donohue:

“Why does AP think it important for the public to learn of a judge’s religion if he is a Catholic? Does AP find it necessary to disclose the religion of all judges, or just  Catholic ones? I do not remember seeing Jewish  judges identified as such.   I wonder why.

“I have written to the president and CEO of AP, Louis D. Boccardi, and to vice  president and executive editor William  E. Ahearn, asking for a copy of the AP policy on this matter. Assuming that the policy does not counsel a double standard, I have asked that steps be taken to discipline the reporter who red flagged Judge  Noonan’s religion.  This kind of subtle, but  nonetheless blatant, form of bigotry  should never be tolerated in the profession of journalism.

“In the event AP policy allows reporters to designate the religion of public persons in stories that have little, if anything, to do with religion, then we would like to see  recent examples of this practice.  If there is no anti-Catholic bigotry to worry about, we expect full and immediate disclosure.  We will be sure to share our  findings with  interested parties in the media.”

The  Catholic League is the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization.  It defends the right of Catholics-lay and clergy alike-to participate in American life  without defamation or discrimination.

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