May 29, 2022

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NYT’s Maureen Dowd: ‘Catholic,’ ‘churchly ethos’ of Supreme Court threatens to turn America ‘upside down’

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A New York Times opinion column from Maureen Dowd Saturday claimed the Catholic Church is imposing its moral view on America by way of the Catholic conservatives on the Supreme Court.

Dowd began her piece, titled “Too Much Church in The State,” by specifically targeting conservative Catholic Justice Amy Coney Barrett, claiming the mother of 7 is poised to impose her religious will on the country through the Supreme Court. 

“During her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Amy Coney Barrett tried to reassure Democrats who were leery of her role as a ‘handmaid’ in a Christian group called ‘People of Praise.’” The author then trashed the group, saying, “The group has a male-dominated hierarchy and a rigid view of sexuality reflecting conservative gender norms and rejecting openly gay men and women.”

As such, Dowd feared that Barrett and the other conservative Catholic justices are bringing that perspective down upon millions of Americans if they dismantle Roe v Wade: “Like a royal queen, she will impose her will on the world. It will be the law of Amy. And Sam. And Clarence. And Neil. And Brett.”

Protesters hold up signs during an abortion rights demonstration, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)


“It’s outrageous that five or six people in lifelong unaccountable jobs are about to impose their personal views on the rest of the country,” Dowd asserted, almost 50 years after 7 men in lifelong unaccountable jobs imposed their personal views on abortion on the rest of the country with Roe v. Wade in 1973.

She stated they will do it under the auspices of proper jurisprudence, but that’s a disguise. “While they will certainly provide the legal casuistry for their opinion, let’s not be played for fools: The Supreme Court’s impending repeal of Roe will be owed to more than judicial argumentation. There are prior worldviews at work in this upheaval,” she wrote.

Dowd mentioned her own Catholic faith and that she’s “happy to see Catholics do well in the world.” She then observed the Catholic make-up of the Supreme Court, writing, “There is an astonishing preponderance of Catholics on the Supreme Court — six out of the nine justices, and a seventh, Neil Gorsuch, was raised as a Catholic.” 

Then she made her larger point: “Still, this Catholic feels an intense disquiet that Catholic doctrine may be shaping (or misshaping) the freedom and the future of millions of women, and men. There is a corona of religious fervor around the court, a churchly ethos that threatens to turn our whole country upside down.”

Inside of a Catholic Church
(Catholic Diocese of El Paso)

Dowd said, “I come from a family that hews to the Catholic dictates on abortion …  But it’s hard for me to watch the church trying to control women’s sexuality after a shocking number of its own priests sexually assaulted children and teenagers for decades.” 


She also accused the Church of not truly respecting women, saying, “It is also hard to see the church couch its anti-abortion position in the context of caring for women when it continues to keep women in subservient roles in the church.”

Dowd then went back to the “religiosity” of the Catholics on the court: “Religiosity is a subject some Catholics on the court have been more open about in recent years,” and claimed to miss the style of the late Mario Cuomo, a Catholic, Democrat and former New York governor “who respected the multiplicity of values in an open society.” 

She mentioned Cuomo’s 1984 speech at Notre Dame University in which he said, “The Catholic who holds political office in a pluralistic democracy” can respect other citizens’ “right to divorce, to use birth control and even to choose abortion.”

An anti-abortion activist attends a protest outside the Supreme Court building, ahead of arguments in the Mississippi abortion rights case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, in Washington, Dec. 1, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst


“The explosive nature of Alito’s draft opinion on Roe has brought to the fore how radical the majority on the court is, willing to make women fit with their zealous worldview,” Dowd wrote toward the end of her piece. 

She then targeted “radical Republicans,” concluding, “We will all have to live with the catastrophic results of their zealotry.”