Reflecting on the coming presidential election, Catholic Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, told readers of The Leaven
– the official archdiocesan newspaper -- that “in choosing presidents, we choose judges, too.”
The archbishop began his piece by referring to conversations he had this summer with his European counterparts who expressed wonderment at the caliber of the current candidates offered by the major U.S. political parties. The bishop wrote, “They asked me: ‘Are these the best leaders America is able to produce?’”
Back home, Archbishop Naumann said that several people he respects and admires have told him that they will not vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. He wrote, “Frankly, they find both of them too flawed. In my lifetime, I do not recall a presidential election where so many Americans found the choices so unattractive.” Archbishop Naumann continued, saying that he sympathizes with them.
Offering a way for Catholics to discern how to vote this fall, he said in his article, “Personally, I feel an obligation to discern which candidate might do the least damage and which candidate, despite their weaknesses, has the potential to do the most good for our nation and world … After all, life is filled with imperfect choices.”
The archbishop added, “In my opinion, one of the most significant responsibilities of the president is the appointment not only of Supreme Court justices, but all federal judges. Since more and more public policy issues are being decided by the courts — not the Congress or the state legislatures — the selection of judges has become extremely important … The president of the United States exercises enormous power by his or her appointments to the court, the Cabinet and federal agencies and commissions.”
Archbishop Naumann sits on the committees on Pro-Life and on Communications in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The nomination of supreme court judges has become one of the most contentious issues in the current campaign because there is a vacancy left by the deceased Justice Antonin Scalia, while President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland as a replacement continues to languish in the Senate. For his part, Donald Trump has said repeatedly that he would nominate conservatives to the court, where issues concerning gun control, property rights, and abortion hang in the balance.