Sarah Posner

Sarah Posner is an investigative journalist, author, and an expert on the intersection of religion and politics. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, The Nation, Salon, The Washington Post, and Religion Dispatches. Read more at her website,


Recent Articles

The FundamentaList (No. 83)

This week in religion and politics: Should the Senate Judiciary Committee consider Sonia Sotomayor's stance on the separation of church and state or her lack of a record on abortion?

1. Sotomayor and Separation of Church and State: More Information Needed. The Supreme Court's "60-year record on the Establishment Clause hangs in the balance," Derek Araujo, vice president and general counsel to the secular Center for Inquiry (CFI) replied when I asked him last week just how important Justice David Souter's vacated seat is to the separation of church and state. That's why ascertaining Sonia Sotomayor's views on this essential constitutional question is one of the most urgent questions the Senate Judiciary Committee must address in Sotomayor's confirmation hearings. Araujo said that jurisprudence protecting the separation of church and state "has been widely regarded as an area for potentially seismic shifts" after the more conservative Samuel Alito replaced Sandra Day O'Connor in 2006. When O'Connor retired, Araujo added, the Court lost a key vote holding that the Constitution requires "government neutrality in matters of religion, not only among different faiths,...


Oh, William Saletan , how I waited for you to enlighten me on the cultural meaning of the assassination of Dr. George Tiller . The wise sage of all that is unassailably reasonable tells us that Tiller's work "makes me want to puke," sort of like battlefield combat, where "guts" are spilled and people are simultaneously brave and murderous. (And, unlike Saletan's view of Tiller, morally justified.) Funny how Saletan uses the battlefield analogy for Tiller, but not for not his alleged murderer, Scott Roeder , who admired the teachings of an anti-abortion group so engaged in the mentality of war that it calls itself the Army of God. After the murder, the group hailed Roeder as an "American hero." Saletan breezes by the extremist groups like Army of God, to applaud the statements of some pro-life groups who condemned Tiller's murder. But then Saletan gives them a pass, in the service of promoting his centrist, reasonable position of reducing abortions. He says the groups condemning Tiller...


As Tim noted below, Charlie Savage's piece in the Times this morning suggested more than it delivered on the alleged qualms in the reproductive rights community over Sonia Sotomayor's position on abortion. As he says, surely she should be questioned about her view of the law in this area, but I don't see -- yet -- evidence that the reproductive rights community is worried about her voting to overturn Roe . I'd just add, though, that her two appellate decisions were not about other bodies of law, rather than about the constitutional right to privacy. Her decisions were purely procedural. In the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy's challenge to the global gag rule, she held that the group's First Amendment claim was controlled by a previous decision that had decided the identical issue. On the group's due process claim, she held that the group did not have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the rule. She did not, as E.J. Dionne wrote this morning, "up[hold] a ban on...

The FundamentaList (No. 82)

This week in religion and politics: Culture warriors prepare to battle over "judicial activist" Sonia Sotomayor's Court nomination, and the religious right reacts to California's Prop. 8 ruling.

1. Dog-Whistle Confirmation Process: "Judicial Activism" and the Religious Right. As soon as President Barack Obama announced the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, the religious right began to grumble with more than a hint of -- surprise, surprise -- bitterness. Call it lingering resentment over Bork that will never go away; call it the frustration of being sidelined from the Beltway fray; call it a need to have something to say and a way to raise money. Sotomayor's life story is a classic of up-by-the-bootstraps conservatism that would be told and retold all over wingnut radio had she been a Republican nominee: the hardworking widowed mother, the Nancy Drew inspiration, Catholic school, scholarships to college, law school, a career as a crime-fighting prosecutor and corporate lawyer before becoming a judge. But Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said in a statement, "A compelling personal story is no substitute for allegiance to the Constitution...


William Galton's post yesterday at TNR , arguing that the latest Gallup and Pew figures on abortion should counsel the president to "think twice before nominating someone with a long record of support for positions far outside the current cultural mainstream" for the Supreme Court is just plain wrong. Wrong about the polls, wrong about what the polling means, wrong about what Democrats' strategy should be on abortion. First, as I laid out in today's FundamentaList , and as several people far better versed in parsing polls than I am have shown, the recent Pew and Gallup polls that Galston latched onto are not reliable indicators of public opinion. The Pew poll showed an inexplicable eight-point drop in support for legal abortion, a finding that is questionable on two grounds: first, it conflicts with other long-term, comprehensive surveys of public opinion on whether abortion should be legal; second, experts say an eight-point drop in public opinion on an issue that has otherwise held...