Ambassador and Former Law Professor Doug Kmiec Steps Down After Criticism of His Anti-Abortion Advocacy

U.S. Ambassador and former law professor, Douglas Kmiec, has stepped down after a State Department report criticized him for spending too much time writing and speaking about his religious beliefs. Kmiec (who I know and personally like) is a conservative who supported Obama in the election and was rewarded with the position. The report stated that Kmiec spent too much time writing and speaking about abortion and too little in being an ambassador. Kmiec’s appointment occurred at a time when Obama was turning away from growing criticism by liberals — a trend that has only increased with time. Kmiec was a law professor at Pepperdine University and legal counsel to President Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Kmiec said that he would step down Aug. 15 and has insisted that “I doubt very much whether one could ever spend too much time on this subject.”

We previously saw how Obama has continued the practice of appointing big donors to ambassadorial positions with disastrous results. Kmiec’s appointment raised some eyebrows at the time and was viewed by liberals as evidence that Obama was much more interested in appealing to conservatives than liberals in his policies and appointments.

Kmiec noted that Obama was the one to embrace faith-based politics — a point that we have discussed. I have been critical of Obama’s continued use of faith for political advantage and his expansion of faith-based programs under Bush — as well as his support of international blasphemy laws.

Kmiec responded by describing the criticism of his religious views was “especially odd” because his friendship with Obama began out of a common view that “too much of politics had been used to divide us, sometimes by excluding people of faith.”

Kmiec, 59, stated: “I must say that I am troubled and saddened that a handful of individuals within my department in Washington seem to manifest a hostility to expressions of faith and efforts to promote better interfaith understanding. Our constitution proudly protects the free exercise of religion — even for ambassadors.”

Doug and I have long had civil disagreements over policies and issues, including the Mukasey nomination and supporting George W. Bush on many of this anti-terror initiatives. Of course, Obama has now supported most of those same initiatives so I can understand why on the issue of faith-based policies (as well as other areas) Kmiec thought he was advancing the wishes of Obama. Obama knew of Kmiec’s views when he nominated him. For example, Kmiec supported amending the Constitution to block same-sex marriage in a widely read column.. In that column, he wrote:

Gay and lesbian individuals are within the humanity acknowledged to be created equal and worthy of respect in the Declaration of Independence, but that responsible reaffirmation of equality of citizenship does not deprive the community of making a necessary and reasoned distinction for its own survival.

Beyond correcting the court’s disregard of the separation of powers, insisting upon preserving the link between marriage and procreation: 1) promotes the orderly continuation of the species; 2) avoids the uncertainties of single-gender effects on children (most parents readily recognize the distinctive contributions of male and female in child rearing); and 3) takes respectful account of the difficulties of accommodating religious freedom that arise subsequent to the legal acceptance of same-sex marriage. Oddly, and incompletely, the California Supreme Court managed to ignore these important issues in its 170-plus page opinion.

Kmiec’s pro-life stand has not changed the opinion of many Catholics who still refer to him as an “apologist” for Obama.

I have always found Doug to be a civil and thoughtful person despite our obvious disagreements on many issues. This row over abortion, however, shows the inherent dangers of Obama’s continued flirting with faith-based politics to garner support. Obama clearly wants to take credit for faith-based policies but then strikes out at people who are advancing those policies. For people like Kmiec, that may seem like a shallow play for political advantage without a principled commitment to the cause. For those of us who desire a strict separation of church and state, Obama has been a huge disappointment (as he has on civil liberties). Like many on this blog, I oppose faith-based policies and I do not want ambassadors blurring the line on such issues. However, Kmiec is suggesting that it was Obama who blurred the line and sent conflicting messages to conservatives in his Administration. I have little disagreement with the thrust of the State Department’s view on such advocacy. My disagreement is with Obama’s responsibility in blurring the line and encouraging greater incorporation of religious based policies and programs.

Source: Catholic News

Jonathan Turley

12 thoughts on “Ambassador and Former Law Professor Doug Kmiec Steps Down After Criticism of His Anti-Abortion Advocacy”

  1. I agree with rafflaw, Blouise, and Nal.

    However, I think there’s a simpler point that needs to be made: I don’t care what the distraction is, no one in government service should be spending the majority of their time on outside projects rather than their actual job. The fact that the time is being spent on a divisive issue (any divisive issue) makes it worse.

  2. HenMan and rafflaw,

    I don’t pretend to know the Constitution the way Buudha, Bob Esq, Vince T, mespo, AY, rafflaw, JT, and Mike A do but I know my history … after all, we’re only about three hundred years old.

    One doesn’t have to thoroughly understand the Constitution to get the basics and if one is familiar with our history, one understands from whence the basics sprang. (or is it sprung)

    (My apologies to any of the learned folk I left off my list.)

  3. Blouise-

    You said, “People keep telling me Obama was a constitutional law professor…he must not have been a very good one.”

    Agreed. You can’t teach what you don’t understand. And you certainly can’t teach with conviction what you don’t believe in.

  4. The report stated that Kmiec spent too much time writing and speaking about abortion and too little in being an ambassador.

    In response Kmiec tries to frame this incident in terms of him being a victim of some kind of faith-based retaliation.

    Playing the victim card makes Kmiec appear guilty of not doing his ambassador’s job.

  5. Back in the day the colonists were certain the King would be sending Anglican Bishops to America to help “enslave” them and Thomas Paine called governments based on monarchy and aristocracy idol worship created by the Devil … the “Popery of government.”

    The Founders were well aware of the religion culture at work in the colonies. How could they not be given that so many had come to the New World to escape the state run church and sought freedom to practice their own religion. Thus the Founders were careful to keep religion and government separate.

    Ambassador Kmiec is certainly free to practice his own religion but he is not free to advocate or promote that religion through his government office as Ambassador. If he wishes to proselytize then he goes to Malta as a missionary commissioned by his Church not as an Ambassador for the United States of America.

    Obama is foolish for allowing faith based politics anywhere near the government. People keep telling me Obama was a constitutional law professor … he must not have been a very good one.

  6. Professor Turley,
    I agree with your concern over the faith based programs. When you mix religion and government, nothing good can come of it. Mr. Kmiec should never have been appointed to the position and his comments on gay rights are disturbing to me. I am always amazed that he can claim that gays should be treated equally and then a few sentences later tries to explain why the court should not treat them equally.

  7. Most of our elected leaders probably have no personal experience with their children getting abortions or getting accidentally pregnant or not being able to afford a new child. They probably put 100% of middle and upper class DC metro teenagers on birth control pills advertised to control PMS. When the daughters do finally get pregnant, the children are subsidized with trust funds and allowances from the grandparents.

  8. Malta, No wop here…no wop there…I suppose now he’s gonna do the do wop….

  9. Ambassador to Malta…

    “In July 2009, he was nominated by President Obama to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Malta. He was confirmed by the Senate and has served for over a year as ambassador to Malta. He resigned his post effective August 15, 2011.”

  10. There exists zero sane daylight between meddling in abortion and calling for blasphemy laws. Both proceed from the busy-body’s need to control others, usually as a result of having lost control of themselves.

    Kudos for Obama for trying. What the President has done instead is unmask these fools while they stand on a legitimate platform, where is it clear their adolescent ramblings have no place.

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