MSNBC's Anti-Catholicism: Reid Warns of 'Catholic Justices...Asserting Their Religion'

On Tuesday, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey correctly pointed out Joy Reid's implicit anti-Catholicism during the commentary segment that closed her MSNBC program on Monday. Reid zeroed in on the Supreme Court cases challenging the Obama administration's abortifacient/contraceptive mandate under ObamaCare, and hyped how "the Court that will decide includes six Catholic justices – some of whom have not been shy about asserting their religion."

The host also bemoaned how "all of this is taking place as the country becomes more secular – even as the fervently religious fight harder than ever to push creationism in taxpayer-funded schools and on science TV shows." Reid underlined that "the question of corporate personhood has gone from whether the railroad has to pay its taxes to whether corporations can be religious people. The question is, do you trust this Court to make those decisions?" [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]

The MSNBC personality led her "Reid Between the Lines" segment by citing a 19th century Supreme Court case where involving Santa Clara County, California and Southern Pacific Railroad where "the chief justice of the Supreme Court who ruled on that case was Morrison Remick Waite – who happened to be a former railroad lawyer....[and] the court reporter himself a former railroad president." Her implication, of course, was that the current situation on the Court regarding the HHS mandate is analogous because of the six Catholic justices.

As you might expect, Reid continued with the Citizens United case, which is regularly maligned by the left, and connected that case and the Southern Pacific case to the ObamaCare mandate cases and the controversy surrounding a Christian photographer in New Mexico who refused to participate in a same-sex wedding:

JOY REID: ...Now, the most famous use of corporate personhood was Citizens United, which opened the door to corporate 'people' spending lots of money to sway elections. The new cases ask whether corporations are not just people – but people who can have religious beliefs. Can the Hobby Lobby craft store chain, and Conestoga Wood Specialties of Pennsylvania claim that covering contraception in their employees' health plans violates their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which says government can't 'substantially burden' a person's exercise of religion? And can a New Mexico photographer refuse to shoot a gay wedding through her corporate expression of herself?

Reid ended the segment with her hype about the supposed bias of the Catholic justices. As Morrissey noted at the end of his post, such prejudiced concern on the part of the MSNBC host is beyond misplaced, as "the six Catholic justices on the Supreme Court rarely reach any kind of consensus, unless it is a consensus shared by the whole court."

The Hot Air blogger also astutely likened the left-wing TV personality's anti-Catholicism to columnist Jamie Stiehm's January 2014 piece titled "The Catholic Supreme Court's War on Women." Stiehm and Reid's commentaries are the verbal equivalent to Tony Auth's infamous anti-Catholic editorial cartoon from 2007 depicting the then-five Catholic justices on the Court wearing the miters of bishops.

The full transcript of Joy Reid's commentary from the Monday edition of her MSNBC program:


JOY REID: 'Corporations are people, my friend.' Those words, spoken to laughter by Willard Mitt Romney in 2012, sound funny, but they have a very unfunny implication. Back in 1886, Santa Clara County, California sued the Southern Pacific Railroad over property taxes. And lawyers for the railroad argued that because states have different tax laws, making the railroad pay violated its 14th Amendment right to equal protection. It was not a new argument. For 20 years after the 14th Amendment was adopted in 1868 to protect ex-slaves, railroads and other corporations tried to use it to get out of regulations and taxes, and they lost until Santa Clara versus the Southern Pacific Railroad.

The chief justice of the Supreme Court, who ruled on that case, was Morrison Remick Waite – who happened to be a former railroad lawyer. His offhand remark before oral arguments – that 'the court does not wish to hear argument on the question on whether the provision in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a state to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does.' That was jotted down by the court reporter – himself a former railroad president. And according to radio host Thom Hartmann, those notes became the basis for corporate personhood from 1886 until today.

Now, the most famous use of corporate personhood was Citizens United, which opened the door to corporate 'people' spending lots of money to sway elections. The new cases ask whether corporations are not just people – but people who can have religious beliefs. Can the Hobby Lobby craft store chain, and Conestoga Wood Specialties of Pennsylvania claim that covering contraception in their employees' health plans violates their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which says government can't 'substantially burden' a person's exercise of religion? And can a New Mexico photographer refuse to shoot a gay wedding through her corporate expression of herself?

[MSNBC Graphic: "Catholic Justices: John Roberts; Antonin Scalia; Anthony Kennedy; Clarence Thomas; Samuel Alito; Sonia Sotomayor"]

The Obama administration is arguing that corporations are, in fact, not people, and that they can't shield themselves behind religious beliefs. The Court that will decide includes six Catholic justices – some of whom have not been shy about asserting their religion. And all of this is taking place as the country becomes more secular – even as the fervently religious fight harder than ever to push creationism in taxpayer-funded schools and on science TV shows. And where the question of corporate personhood has gone from whether the railroad has to pay its taxes to whether corporations can be religious people. The question is, do you trust this Court to make those decisions?

[MSNBC Graphic: "Pew Research Center: Religiously Unaffiliated: Millennial, 29%; Gen X, 21%; Boomer, 16%; Silent, 9%; Source: Totals Based On All Pew Research Surveys In 2014"]

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center