It didn’t take long before critics of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts made an issue of his religion. All over the airwaves pundits were wondering whether his Catholicism might interfere with his duties as a judge.

For example, the day after President Bush nominated Roberts, an influential left-wing publication, The American Prospect, ran a particularly unseemly piece in its online edition charging that Bush’s choice of Roberts meant that the president was “Playing the Catholic card.”

According to Adele M. Stan, Bush was “betting he’s bought himself some insulation—any opposition to Roberts, particularly because of his anti-abortion record, will likely be countered with accusations of anti-Catholicism.” She said this is a “timely pitch” to “conservative Catholic voters prior to the midterm elections”; she urged “liberal Catholics” and others to protest Roberts.

Stan went even further on her blog, AddieStan, by saying “Rome must be smiling” at Bush’s choice. She asked that readers contact the Democratic Catholics on the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject Roberts.

William Donohue issued a quick reply, saying we ought to apply Stan’s logic to President Clinton’s selection of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Steven Breyer for the Supreme Court. Donohue offered, “Did he do so because he liked ‘Playing the Jewish card’? And did he do so because he wanted his critics to be seen as anti-Semites? For good measure, was Israel ‘smiling’ when Clinton chose Ginsburg and Breyer?”

The fact that Jew baiting did not accompany the nominations of Ginsburg and Breyer, Donohue said, showed how this nation has progressed. “Unfortunately,” he added, “within 24 hours of Roberts’ nomination, Catholic baiting raised its ugly head.” He concluded by saying, “We hope this is not the beginning of an ugly few months.”

Just as we thought, things got worse. That’s one reason why Donohue joined with evangelical notables like Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in the “Justice Sunday II” event that was staged in Nashville on August 14. The idea that Catholic nominees to the Supreme Court should be subjected to a religious litmus test is outrageous.

This issue lists many of the most objectionable comments about Roberts and Catholicism. It also lists how the Catholic League has responded to these vicious remarks.

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