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Hannity

Will John Roberts' Catholic Faith Be An Issue?

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 26, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Our top story tonight, some conservatives are upset and are warning Democrats not to make an issue out of Judge Roberts' Catholicism. Now, last week, the judge met with Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin on Capitol Hill.

According to law professor Jonathan Turley, who wrote a column about the meeting in the Los Angeles Times, Durbin asked the judge about potential conflicts between his Catholic faith and the law. Now, according to Turley, Roberts said that he would recuse himself in cases involving abortion, the death penalty, or other issues that might conflict with Catholic teachings.

A spokesman for Senator Durbin denies Turley's account of the recusal statement, but Turley is standing by his story. Either way, should the judge's faith be off-limits?

Joining us now is the president of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins and the author of "Come Thirsty," Minister Max Lucado.

Thank you both very much for being with us.

Tony, let me begin with you. First of all, I also spoke with Dick Durbin's office today. They say that did not happen, as Jonathan Turley wrote. And there was — it was never brought up or said he would recuse himself from cases based on the topic of those cases. You want to respond to that?

TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Well, I'm concerned about the line of questioning of Senator Durbin. And you take that in combination with what he said on "Meet the Press" this weekend.

He's clearly implying that people who believe that there should be some restrictions on abortion in this country are out of the mainstream, and that's an extreme position. There should be no litmus test because people have a religious conviction, that somehow they're disqualified from serving either on the bench or some other public office.

I mean, that line of questioning or reasoning has a very chilling effect upon our process here in this country. And it's totally out of line.

COLMES: Well, I'm not aware that he said that anybody who believes there should be any restrictions outside of the mainstream. But let me ask you this: Should one's personal religious view have any role in interpretation of the law?

PERKINS: I think when you look at someone and whether or not they're Protestant, they're Catholic, or they're Jewish, they have every right to be involved in this process. And our Constitution guarantees there'll be no litmus, religious litmus test. I mean, if anything, I think we need a tolerance test for some of these senators. I mean, Chuck Schumer filibustered against Judge Pryor because of his deeply held personal beliefs. It just so happened they both were Catholic, in this case, Judge Roberts and Judge Pryor...

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: You're not saying they're anti-Catholic, are you?

PERKINS: No, I'm not. I'm saying that they're saying that, if they hold to the tenets of their faith, that somehow it disqualifies them from serving on the bench. You know, you can be religious. As long as you don't believe that stuff, you're OK. But if you really believe it, then you shouldn't be involved in the...

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: I think the real issue — let me go to Max Lucado. The real issue, Max, is whether one's personal religious view should play a role in the way you interpret the Constitution. What's your take on it?

MAX LUCADO, AUTHOR, "COME THIRSTY": I think it has to. Faith creates character, and we live through our character. And I believe that the senators and the American public should have an understanding as to the faith-based, or the world view, that is created within a potential — within a judicial candidate, because that's going to then dictate the decisions that they make.

I don't think anybody would want a person to be discriminated against because of their religion. And their religion is what creates their value system. And that's what we're trying to figure out...

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: Don't you have to separate what your personal religious views and what you personally believe may not be what the Constitution says, which would not necessarily deny you your belief system? But shouldn't you be able to look at it purely, objectively, in a religious neutral kind of way? And isn't that the question?

PERKINS: Well, that's exactly what Judge Roberts has done, and I believe that's what he will do, as will look at this — you know, it's been said that Roe vs. Wade is poorly decided law. And to say that somehow because he's Catholic, and the tenets of the Catholic faith say abortion is wrong, that somehow he's out of line and he's not appropriate to be a judge.

I mean, that clearly is trying to impose a religious litmus test. And it's wrong. And I agree with Max in that, you know, we should know, as the American public, where people stand, the sum total of who they are, but it should not be used against them. The Constitution guarantees that.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hey, Max, don't you think it's a little odd, if you LexisNexis Judge Roberts' name with being a Catholic, in one week it shows up 193 times on LexisNexis, but yet Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in the entire year in which she was nominated, there's less than a dozen stories about her religious faith? Doesn't that seem to be a little big of a disparity there for you?

LUCADO: Yes, absolutely. And that's what we're trying to avoid, any type of discrimination or singling out of anyone's faith as an albatross, potential at albatross around their...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: But that's what's happening, clearly, isn't it? Otherwise, it would have happened the same with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And I don't think it should happen to anybody. I don't think it's any of these senators' business what his faith is, or to go after him clearly the way they are, creating this litmus test. Isn't that what's going on here?

LUCADO: Again, what I would like to know, just as a citizen, his value system, you know, whether they're Mormon, whether they're Presbyterian, whether they're Buddhist...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: That's fair.

LUCADO: ... can be a matter set aside for another topic. What I want to know is, what really matters to them? What are their values? What do they cherish? What do they see as a purpose of a nation? What do they hold holy? What do they regard as important and nonnegotiable?

Those are the things that are going to surface in these decisions...

HANNITY: Well, we want to know one's judicial philosophy.

LUCADO: Right.

HANNITY: And the president promised to the American people when he ran for office twice, he'd pick an originalist like Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas. I hope Republicans ask some tough questions during these hearings.

And I don't have any doubts the president's going to deliver on his promise. I believe he will. He hasn't failed conservatives so far. I don't expect he's going to here.

I want to ask if I can Tony, I want to go to you. You know something? I've interviewed Jonathan Turley a lot. My office called over to his office today to get some confirmation about this story. And he's not a Republican. He's not a conservative. He's a Democrat that happened to be outspoken on the Clinton impeachment issue.

I find him a man of incredible integrity and honesty. And now he's had to come out and basically explain it was Durbin himself who tried to leak this story. And now Durbin seems to be denying it. It seems, in light of Durbin comparing our own troops to Nazis, that Durbin senses that his political future may be hanging in the balance here over this basic, sleazy tactic of his.

PERKINS: Yes. I think there's a pattern here, Sean. It's very evident.

And clearly, with Senator Durbin, some of the things that he said, comparing our troops to Nazis, now saying people that believe Roe vs. Wade is wrongly decided law, because of religious convictions, they shouldn't be involved, that they're not qualified to serve on the bench.

You know, Sean, that whole line of reasoning, it has a very chilling effect. And it sends a very clear message to people. "OK, you can be religious, but if you want to do that and live by those religious convictions, then you have to choose. You have to choose between that and serving in public office."

And that's wrong. And as a senator, he shouldn't be doing that.

HANNITY: That's a good point.

PERKINS: What we really need is a tolerance test for these senators.

COLMES: By the way, he didn't compare the troops to Nazis. And he did apologize for his comments, by the way.

HANNITY: Oh, yes, he did. And he never did apologize.

PERKINS: Oh, he did.

COLMES: He did say he was sorry that his words caused hurt...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: But he didn't apologize for saying it.

COLMES: Thank you very much for being with us.

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