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Two Catholics of Consequence
Catholic ^ | 11-03-06 | George Weigel

Posted on 11/03/2006 11:34:51 PM PST by Salvation

by George Weigel

Other Articles by George Weigel
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Two Catholics of Consequence

Two of the most influential Catholics in American public life marked important milestones in their lives and careers last month. The nation owes both men a large debt of gratitude.

For the first time in a very long time, Henry Hyde’s name will not be on a ballot in this election cycle: one of the greatest Catholic legislators in US history is retiring, full of years — and not a few pains — but unbroken and unbowed. It’s hard to imagine the US House of Representatives without Henry Hyde, whom a television journalist of decidedly liberal views once described to me as “the smartest man in Congress.”

During twenty years in the House minority, Hyde, the undisputed leader of Congressional pro-lifers, had, by force of argument and personality, an influence on politics and law that few in the majority could match. During his twelve years in the House majority, chairing the Judiciary Committee and then the International Relations Committee, Henry Hyde demonstrated that principle and robust argument can go hand-in-hand with courtesy and respect. Hyde leaves the Congress with thousands of friends and very few detractors, with the possible exception of Bill Clinton, whose praise the Congressman would likely find... unsettling.

It has been one of the great privileges of my life to have worked with Henry Hyde since 1984, in good times and in bad, when we were winning and when we were losing. Those twenty-two years of collaboration and friendship are chock-full of memories, but perhaps my fondest recollection of Henry involves not a great public moment, but a hospital bed. It was the late eighties, if memory serves; Henry’s prostate was acting up, and he’d had surgery at Georgetown University Hospital during the Thanksgiving season. Late Thanksgiving morning, I went to visit him and there, in a hospital gown, with tubes coming in and out of this and that, was the quintessential Henry Hyde: larger than life, smoking a huge cigar, watching the Bears and the Lions on TV, reading a biography of William Wilberforce (the British parliamentary reformer whose agitations finally put an end to the slave trade), and cracking jokes about a would-be successor, back in Illinois, who had suddenly become solicitous for the Congressman’s health.

That was, and is, Henry Hyde: a man of intelligence, conviction, courage, and unbounded good humor, who took on fights that others deemed unwinnable because it was the right thing to do. We’ll probably not see the like of him again, and the Republic will be the poorer for it.

Justice Antonin Scalia has also just marked the twentieth anniversary of his appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States.

When Justice Scalia joined the Court, the idea that judges should attend to the text of the Constitution, and the public meaning of its provisions at the time it was ratified and amended, was not, to put it gently, well established. Results-driven judging was the order of the day. Get the result right, proponents of this view argued (and there were both liberals and conservatives among them); then figure out a plausible argument to support that result. Justice Scalia begged to differ. In his settled opinion, judging that wasn’t anchored in the text, in its original public meaning, amounted to the judicial hijacking of politics, with judges doing what legislators are meant to do.

It was a lonely view, then, if a highly principled one: a jurisprudential application, some might say, of Chesterton’s famous observation that tradition is the democracy of the dead — that is, paying attention to the wisdom of our ancestors. But Justice Scalia stuck to his intellectual guns, and now finds himself as one of the senior figures in a movement that is having a marked influence on both the courts and the law schools. If the actual text of the US Constitution means anything today, no small part of the credit for that must go to Justice Antonin Scalia.

A salute, then, to two Catholics of consequence, Henry Hyde and Antonin Scalia, men of faith who brought faith and reason together in the service of America.

George Weigel is author of the bestselling books
The Courage to Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform, and the Future of the Church and Letters to a Young Catholic.

This column has been made available to Catholic Exchange courtesy of the Denver Catholic Register.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: antoninscalia; catholiclist; georgeweigel; henryhyde; supremecourt
For your information and discussion
1 posted on 11/03/2006 11:34:52 PM PST by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; sandyeggo; Lady In Blue; NYer; american colleen; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ...
Catholic Discussion Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Catholic Discussion Ping List.

2 posted on 11/03/2006 11:36:38 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation


3 posted on 11/03/2006 11:38:05 PM PST by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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To: Salvation

Scalia is the best thing to happen to the judicial system in the US in a long time. The man is as sharp as a whip and has the personality to match.

4 posted on 11/04/2006 2:25:03 AM PST by CheyennePress
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To: Salvation

Henry Hyde has made his mark in the world. No doubt, many people are alive today because of his efforts. He is a bloody champion!

May he have a long and happy retirement.

All Australian pro-lifers thank him for his courage, wisdom and leadership. He will be a hard act to follow.

5 posted on 11/04/2006 2:46:01 AM PST by Aussie Dasher (The Great Ronald Reagan & John Paul II - Heaven's Dream Team!)
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To: Salvation
Thanks for the post

I didn't know much about Hyde, But Scalia is Da BOMB! I'm reading some of his dissenting opinions and they are laugh out loud funny.

6 posted on 11/04/2006 4:27:05 AM PST by Mad Dawg (Now we are all Massoud)
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To: Salvation

God bless both of these patriots.

7 posted on 11/04/2006 5:21:08 AM PST by Bigg Red (Never trust Democrats with national security.)
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To: Salvation; AlaninSA;; Coleus

Henry Hyde is a member of the Knights of Columbus and has never embarrassed us or scandalized his Church by his votes regarding the sanctity of human life or on fetal stem cell research.

God bless this man of principle!


8 posted on 11/04/2006 6:47:32 AM PST by Frank Sheed (Tá brón orainn. Níl Spáinnis againn anseo.)
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To: Frank Sheed
only one problem, he votes to fund planned parenthood every year. HR 3010. A big appropriation bill that contains family planning money, $285,000,000 for planned parenthood. Did he ever sponsor an amendment to that bill to have the Title X funding separated?
9 posted on 11/04/2006 10:08:23 AM PST by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, geese, algae)
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To: tlRCta; RKBA Democrat; fedupjohn; Warthogtjm; markomalley; lneuser; Coleus; ArrogantBustard; ...

Please FReepmail me if you'd like to be added to or removed from the KofC ping list.

10 posted on 11/04/2006 1:59:04 PM PST by AlaninSA ("Beware the fury of a patient man." - John Dryden)
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