Our goal here at GetReligion is, of course, to focus on MSM coverage of religion news. But we also want to point journalists toward helpful online materials at sites such as Poynter, Beliefnet, ReligionLink and elsewhere. In that vein, let me point toward a very interesting essay that just hit the Christianity Today weblog, written by the omnipresent Ted Olsen. Clearly, evangelicals are at the heart of the behind-the-scenes wars over the Supreme Court and, thus, it matters what they think of the leading candidates. Thus, Olsen's headline: "Is Gonzales Pro-Life? Does it Matter?" In addition to source-material links, there's a ton of reporting in this essay. Here is a key section:
Religious conservatives have to be very careful, too. Opposing Gonzales merely because his views on abortion are unknown could seem capricious or hypocritical, especially if you've been critical of "judicial activists" making decisions on personal bias. (The judicial campaign of Family Research Council, which opposes a Gonzales nomination, is so far centered on making sure a Supreme Court nominee doesn't have to declare his or her views on abortion.)
But National Review's Edward Whelan suggests another reason Gonzales would be bad for conservatives -- he would have to recuse himself from several cases, probably including the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Act. (A Gonzales recusal in that case would almost certainly ensure an invalidation of the ban, Whelan notes.) He may even have to recuse himself "from virtually all the cases of greatest importance to the administration." That would include the Patriot Act, too, something Bush probably cares more about than the Partial-Birth Abortion Act. (And something on which Christians are quite divided, by the way.)
This gives pro-lifers an opening without compromising their commitments. They don't have to fight Bush on Gonzales on the abortion front; they can claim to protect Bush from Gonzales, or at least from the legal implications of appointing any attorney general to the bench. Such a shift from ideology to strategy would shift the nomination debate significantly.
P.S. By the way, amid the usual 1,000 or so links in this edition of the CT weblog, music fans will want to check out the little blurb about Liam Gallagher of Oasis being ticked off at Bono because the U2 singer won't quit trying to covert him to traditional Christianity. Some versions of this story floating around contain another reference to Bono being a Roman Catholic.