Following a recent report that Judge John Roberts could face a 'litmus test' on how he would rule on issues related to his Catholic faith, evangelical and Catholic leaders have replied with concern saying that such a test should not be made.
In an opinion piece in Suday's L.A. Times, Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University reported that Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., asked Judge John Roberts last week "what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considers immoral."
The President of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins said that placing Judge Roberts in the position of choosing between his faith and the law was not allowed by the Constitution, which forbids the disqualification of nominees on the basis of religious and moral convictions. He called for senators to refrain from such opposition based on religious views.
If Judge John Roberts is confirmed as a justice, he would become the fourth Catholic on the Supreme Court. Some have raised concern that such a grouping of Catholics would have an influence on the rulings of the court.
Catholic Justices include Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy. The Associate Press reports that Thomas, whose son is a priest, and Scalia can sometimes be seen walking together to court after Mass on certain holy days of the Catholic calendar.
Currently, the Catholic church holds hold clear positions in opposition to controversial topics such as such as abortion, capital punishment and euthanasia.
"Religious convictions are not excess baggage or obstacles on the road to public service," added Pavone.
Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said in a statement that anyone familiar with the Constitution should be "embarrassed" by the suggestion that a judicial nominee should pass through a "religious gauntlet" before confirmation.
In a statement prior to a press conference addressing the matter on Tuesday, Rev. Rob Schenck, President of the National Clergy Council said that Senator Durbin was essentially asking Judge Roberts not to take his Christian faith seriously.
"That's a religious test and this is unconstitutional," he added.