With the passage of the Stupak amendment to the health care bill on Saturday, many pro-choice members of Congress are once again bemoaning the undue influence of religious leaders and organizations on legislative matters. “Who elected them to Congress?” asked Representative Lyn Woosley (D-Calif.) about the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, whom she accused of bullying Catholic members of Congress to support the amendment removing federal funding of abortion from the heath care plan.
Professor John Pitney of Claremont McKenna College points out on the Corner blog at National Review Online that this is not a new argument. Citing another Democratic leader:
It is an attempt to establish a theocracy to take charge of our politics and our legislation. It is an attempt to make the legislative power of this country subordinate to the church. It is not only to unite Church and State, but it is to put the State in subordination to the dictates of the church.
The one quoted? Senator Stephen A. Douglass, objecting to religious support of an anti-slavery petition in 1854.