Bush to Miers: Keep the faith

Bush takes some heat for using religion in support of his Supreme Court nominee.

Published October 13, 2005 1:58PM (EDT)

Salon editorial fellow J.J. Helland follows the Miers nomination process.

President Bush probably thought that all Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers had to do to get confirmed was show the Senate Judiciary Committee her mash notes saying how cool she thinks the president is. But it turns out confirming Miers may require a bit more finesse than that.

And that lesson could be all the more urgent, especially since President Bush has been taking some heat lately for invoking religion to woo conservative support of Miers. Bush has come under fire for saying in the Oval Office yesterday that part of the White House's "outreach program" to garner support for the nominee included discussing her faith. "People ask me why I picked Harriet Miers  They want to know Harriet Miers' background, they want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions. And part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion."

Uh, excuse us for being a bit cynical here, but it wasn't too long ago, during the confirmation process for John Roberts, when his Roman Catholic faith became an issue, that conservatives like Texas Sen. John Cornyn were saying, "We have no religious test for public office ... And I think anyone would find that sort of inquiry, if it were actually made, offensive." But isn't that exactly what Bush is doing here, trying to show the religious right that Miers passes the "religious test" with flying colors?

It's rare that we find common ground with Sen. Cornyn on much of anything, but this time we wholeheartedly agree with him: Religious tests are offensive. We wish someone would tell that to the president.

By J.J. Helland

J.J. Helland is Salon's editorial fellow in New York.

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