Garnett on Notre Dame Controversy

Readers will know where I stand on the controversy surrounding the University of Notre Dame's decision to award President Obama an honorary degree next Sunday at their commencement. But, I have to tip my hat to Rick Garnett, a law professor at Notre Dame, who takes the opposite position in today's USAToday but does so thoughtfully and intelligently. This does not surprise if you are familiar with Garnett's writing. But, his calm, reasoned argument, which could have found its way into Dr. Glendon's speech if she had not decided to absent herself from the ceremonies, will not be the face of the opposition to Notre Dame's decision next Sunday. Randall Terry will garner all the media attention. That is a shame for Notre Dame, a shame for the pro-life movement, and a shame for the Church.   

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9 years ago
I do not admire the USA Today article that is cited. The author of it places blame on Obama, while at the same time pretending to grant Obama freedom from following the orders of a Church he is not a member of (ie: "why should he?"). The author presents Obama as a man who doesn't honor life. Yet, Obama is upholding the law by supporting the right to chose, which is exactly what the law states. Are Presidents supposed to Break the law? Is this the legacy of George W. Bush? Any law is yours to break, as long as you mumble platitudes about the "sanctity" of life, that keep all the lifers happy.
9 years ago
What will people do between May 17 and the announcement of the next nominee to the Supreme Court?  I was almost afraid that the pro-life movement would run out of fundraising opportunities.
9 years ago
Mr. Winters: The series of Fr. Jennings-Obama-Notre-Dame-Mary Ann Glendon-Richard Garnett blogs and commentaries have been an intellectual feast for readers of America. It's one of those rare moments when ideas, religion, and politics fuse into a critical mass. We are now better equipped to provide arguments to defend life and the principles that define us as Catholics in a pluralistic democracy that is increasingly hostile to those values. Notre Dame is the better for it because its academic leadership and Catholicism have been subjected to critical scrutiny. American democracy is stronger because the debate on the role of faith in public life is more intelligent, and American Catholics have renewed confidence in our bishops and in such Catholic intellectuals as Mary Ann Glendon and Richard Garnett. This is no small achievement. We are grateful to your provocative blogging. Whether intended or not you have done wonders, even though we often don't agree with you. Gabriel Marcella, ND 1972, retired professor, US Army War College, Carlisle, Pa.    
9 years ago
The shame is that Notre Dame is conferring an honorary degree on Obama.
9 years ago
Garnett's article states, "A Catholic university can and should engage all comers, but in order to be true to itself — to have integrity — it should hesitate before honoring those who use their talents or power to bring about grave injustice." Just what grave injustices has Obama used his talents and power to bring about?  Would the embryos that will be used in Federally funded research have been born but for this funding?  Is some woman in an impoverished part of the world being steered toward having an abortion she would not have sought out except that the US government again provides some funding to those organizations that would not be muzzled on the topic of abortion?
9 years ago
MSW: I think that overall, the criticisms of Notre Dame's decision to honor President Obama have been more along the lines of Prof. Rick Garnett's thoughtful editorial than the shrill accusations of Randall Terry (which, while likely well-intentioned, are more prone to alienate than to persuade).  Instead, it has served the interests of those who support Notre Dame's decision to mischaracterize all opposition as being more like the latter than the former.  Thus, your acknowledgement of the qualify of Prof. Garnett's remarks is certainly welcome.  At the same time, what has been missing in all of this controversy is anything like a point-by-point response to the calm, reasoned arguments put forth by Garnett and others. Moreover, your suggestion that Prof. Mary Ann Glendon could have delivered remarks similar to Prof. Garnett's is surprising, to say the least, given your prior characterization [url=][/url]  of her decision not to share the stage with President Obama as demonstrating a false sense of "moral responsibility," as showing all the sincerity of "a sincere Republican" whose affiliation with the Bush administration meant that she endorsed the intrinsic evil of torture such that "it is rich to hear her lecturing about moral outrage."  Of course, you can cite to no source which shows that Prof. Glendon endorses or has endorsed torture for the simple reason that she has never advocated that position.  What you could do is point to many sources in which President Obama has endorsed the intrinsic evil of abortion, as a matter of both personal and political morality. Further, Prof. Glendon is not the Republican stooge you suggest, indeed, I don't believe that Prof. Glendon is a Republican at all.  She was invited to serve in a Republican administration, but, let's face it, no such invitation was forthcoming from the Clinton administration nor will any be forthcoming from the Obama administration for the simple reason that the views she holds and so eloquently defends  -- and indeed, the kind of feminism she embodies -- are anathema to those who hold power in the Democratic Party.  (I say this as a disaffected Democrat, disaffected precisely because of the Party's doctrinaire approach to the "choice" issue).  Prof. Glendon's decision to decline the Laetare Medal had nothing to do with some supposed sense of moral purity that would be offended if she were to share the stage with the President.  As I think her letter to Father Jenkins made clear, her decision was based on a desire not to be manipulated, to serve as political cover for the serious miscalculations in judgment for which Jenkins and the University are responsible. The absence of manipulation and a forthright engagement with the arguments put forth by those who respect the President but oppose the University's decision to honor him are necessary if the Catholic community is to enjoy the benefits of genuine dialogue on this matter. Sincerely,   John M. Breen, ND Class of 1985 Associate Professor Loyola University Chicago School of Law    
9 years ago
Now that the situation has become public, I think Notre Dame should respectfully and civilly go ahead with the Obama presentation. However, heads should roll, and no such homor should ever again be given any prominent aborition proponent. Certainly the opponents have forcefully made their anger known, and perhaps good will come of it, but no demonstration should follow.  There is no harm in hearing both points of view, in fact, much benefit, but if Notre Dame wishes to maintain a Catholic identity (and how could they not, with a name such as theirs?) they must come down publicly on the side of life. And Strongly!


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