Cardinal DiNardo: Roe v. Wade shouldn’t be used as litmus test for Supreme Court nominees

In letter to senators, president of the USCCB says there are several good reasons why 1973 decision legalizing abortion in the U.S. should not be used to evaluate appointments to the high court

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo. (Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA)

The U.S. Senate should not use a nominee’s stance on Roe v. Wade as a litmus test on suitability for appointment to the Supreme Court, the president of the nation’s bishops’ conference has said.

“By any measure, support for Roe is an impoverished standard for assessing judicial ability,” wrote Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USCCB, in a July 6 letter to senators.

DiNardo added that “nominees’ faith should not be used as a proxy for their views on Roe. Any religious test for public office is both unjust and unconstitutional.”

The cardinal’s letter comes days before July 9, when President Donald Trump is expected to announce his pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement in June.

Pro-life advocates have expected hope that a Trump-appointed justice could give the court a majority of justices willing to overturn Roe v. Wade. Among the rumored candidates is Judge Amy Barrett, a Catholic, who made headlines last year when Sen. Dianne Feinstein criticized Barrett’s faith, saying that Catholic “dogma lives loudly” within her.

DiNardo’s letter said that the Church’s ethical commitment to the right to life “has profound consequences not only for abortion,” but for the death penalty, the right to health care, and other issues.

“Our civil society will be all the poorer if Senators, as a matter of practice, reject well-qualified judicial nominees whose consciences have been formed in this ethic,” DiNardo concluded.

Full story at Catholic News Agency.


  1. There is no right to health care.

    • Bob One says:

      Jackie, NOT TRUE. Everyone has the right to good basic healthcare!

      • Anonymous says:

        Bob One, your personal OPINION is no more valid than Jackie’s. #StopVirtueShaming

      • bohemond says:

        Wrong Bob One… there is no Constitutional right to have healthcare no matter what you dream up……Government needs to be drastically reduced and bureaucratic state busted up

        • Bohemond, you are correct – government needs to be drastically reduced and bureaucratic state busted up. That can be done without denying people good health care, which is a right, as taught by the Catholic Church. It is God-given, not government given. No Catholic or other people of good will can stand by and see people suffer from the lack of good health care. How we pay for it is a whole different issue, and a very complicated issue, separate from the moral issue.

          • bohemond says:

            Bob One,,, the Virtue Signaler ….the way things are going in CA, it will soon be like Venezuela, where people will be picking through trash for dinner

    • Anonymous says:

      Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of illhealth; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood.
      Pope John XXIII Pacem in Terris 11

  2. Robert Lockwood says:

    Why not? Why not do whatever is necessary to stop the murder of our offspring?

  3. Who wants an arbitrary litmus test? But I should think we DO want the next justice to be wise enough to recognize how BAD the Roe opinion is (regardless of your view on abortion)!

    But, about that Catholic approach to public policy…should we not be primarily concerned with the FOUNDATION of any consistent ethic? The dignity of the person from conception and recognizing/promoting/defending the community of 2 persons (family) that creates another person is the foundation of all of the Church’s social doctrine. This essential FOUNDATION of Catholic social doctrine is and has been massively under assault! Thus, it seems this ought to be the PRIMARY policy focus of the Conferences because you cannot build a house (that will last) on sand!

  4. AngelaW says:

    Another priest who has bought into the whole “social Justice” lie. I have the solution…all those seeking to come into the US without prior proper approval can go live at the Vatican, inside THEIR walls. The US Priests who do not feel the right to life is above all else, can defrock themselves. Stop watering down God’s Commandmebts with man’s fickle wishes. I am SO tired of the leaders of the Catholic community trying to make public policy and US laws. Clean up your own backyard and this would NOT be a problem…ANYWHERE in the world.

  5. Abortion is murder, whether you are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or atheist. Several past popes, as well as Mother Theresa spoke about the evils of abortion. To say that abortion is not the main reason to support a candidate is a lie.The modernists in the Church are like Cardinal Bernardine with his seamless garment approach. Being pro life is the most important factor in choosing candidates. Having health care is NOT a constitutional right. Unfortunately most people who demand health care are pro choice, anti ICE, and for illegal aliens..

  6. Linda Maria says:

    This Cardinal, and the USCCB, has no business being involved in politics! Instead– it is their job to preach and teach Catholic doctrine to Catholics— and to the world! It is their duty always, to defend the life of the unborn child — abortion is not a judicial or medical “decision” — it is murder!!! The Roe vs. Wade “decision” was IMMORAL — same thing as Hitler’s IMMORAL “decision” for the Holocaust of the Jews!!

  7. Sal Mendez says:

    No surprise here.
    When Norma McCorvey, the national symbol for Roe V Wade and a change of heart/mind passed awy in his diocese, DiNardi was asked to hold a special Requiem Mass for er. He never even responded.

    So happy that Trump does not consult with the American Catholic bishops before making his choice for Supreme Court. Keep in mind that US Supreme Court Chief Justice was a Catholic and he ruled against the right to life of Black people—only to have a non-Catholic, President Lincoln, issue an executive order giving all Blackk people freedom..

  8. helen wheels says:

    it’s sometimes hard to tell
    who your friends really are.
    Roe v. Wade majority opinion:
    written by Harry Blackmun
    appointed by Republican,
    Richard Nixon
    just a little history

  9. Linda Maria says:

    Of course, a Justice of the Supreme Court should be chosen on the basis of competence– and integrity!! Justice Kennedy (a so-called “Catholic”) and several others– have no moral integrity at all, and have wrongfully misused their positions, over many decades, greatly contributing to the severe moral destruction of our country! It is the duty of our prelates, to properly run our Church– and to excommunicate unrepentant sinners! If our prelates would keep to their own jobs– then, our Church and our country would run properly! And Justice Kennedy, proponent of “gay marriage”– would be publicly viewed correctly, as an “Ex-Catholic!” With zero Church support!

  10. Anonymous says:

    To clarify, Cardinal DiNardo told the Congress not to use opposition to Roe v. Wade as a litmus test to reject candidates. He knows there are a lot of Democrats who will oppose anyone who is pro-life. He is asking them not to do that.

    • Kristin says:

      The Cardinal asked with a Wink Wink! As a likely Democrat himself, this cardinal has tossed away his commitment to the unborn in favor of all kinds of liberal positions he finds more important. If one will not oppose the killing of babies, the rest of their opinions really don’t matter, and they are not to be trusted.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cardinal DiNardo opposes the killing of babies.

        • Kristin says:

          Then his VOTES should support candidates who oppose the killing of babies. Mixing in things like capital punishment and healthcare diminishes the priority of abortion as the most fundamental of the life issues.

          • Anonymous says:

            101. The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist. Or they relativize it, as if there are other more important matters, or the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend. Our defence of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Gaudete et Exsuttate

          • Anonymous says:

            Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.[84] We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty. Gaudete et Exsultate 101

          • Anonymous @7:10pm, providing dignity and compassion to the already born cannot be prioritized higher than allowing these goods for the unborn. Can’t twist eternal and natural truth to allow for the killing of the unborn! Repeat, CANNOT!

            Many Catholics should confess their cooperation in abortion through their voting habits.

          • Anonymous says:

            Catholics are supposed to do it all.

          • Anonymous says:

            So the Cardinal writes a letter to Congress because he knows some of them will oppose any candidate that they think might overturn Roe v. Wade telling them not to reject someone because of that…and he’s falsely accused of not opposing the killing of babies and of twisting eternal truth to allow the killing of the unborn.

          • Kristin says:

            Anonymous @6:36pm – Get it straight – the cardinal, for whom abortion is a lower priority than other social issues, is asking that congress treat it as a lower priority as well. He is being called out for his twisted notion that other issues are of more importance than opposing the killing of the unborn.

  11. Jackie M says:

    To clarify,, would DiNardi tell Congress not to use anti-slavery as a litmus test in the 1880’s?
    “Anonymous” is as illogical and has disoriented as DiNardi.

  12. St. Christopher says:

    The Church is in dire trouble, as long as men such as C. DiNardo occupy leadership positions. The “seamless garment” has no place in the Church. Murder of the pre-born is not on the same moral plane as illegal immigration. C. DiNardo is a great example of why so many Catholics believe that the Vatican simply no longer cares about the Faith, only money and institutional glory.

    Oh, “Bob One,” you are complete wrong about anyone’s “right” to health care coverage. Too many “rights” which translates to control over behavior and money of others. Think this through.

  13. Being pro murder, as what abortion rights stands for, is a billion times worse than having no health insurance, outlawing unions, and enforcing immigration laws. There is no divine law that states health insurance, unions and freedom from borders is a right. Obviously the prelate from Houston never studied logic or moral theology. How sad and tragic that so many sheep are following this shepherd into the valley of modernism, while deserting the one true Church..

  14. It was Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston who first opened the can of worms in regards to the Church being silent regarding public sin and scandal. He was responsible for Catholic political leaders in abandoning traditional Catholic morality when voting. As as result we have Catholics being pro-choice in regards to abortion, homosexual relations, birth control, and many other sins, which have caused many to leave the Church and join other religions.

    • Bravo Pilar for doing your research! The Church needs strong men to lead and not back down when confronted with evil. Their flocks depend on them.

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