Former Reagan-era Justice Department official Douglas Kmiec was sworn in yesterday as ambassador to Malta at a ceremony that included “strange religious/political bedfellows,” the U.S. News & World Report’s God & Country blog reported.
The event for Kmiec, a conservative Roman Catholic who headed the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel in the 1980s, attracted several prominent Catholic friends, including liberal activist actor Martin Sheen, Catholic University president Rev. David M. O’Connell and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s conservative wing.
“It felt like an official diocesan event with a twist,” God & Country reporter Dan Gilgoff wrote.
Sheen, who played a Democratic president in The West Wing, recited the Pledge of Allegiance. He and Kmiec attended the same California church.
O’Connell offered a prayer for his former colleague, who was once dean of the Catholic University law school and was most recently a law professor at Pepperdine University.
Alito administered the oath to Kmiec, with whom he’d worked during the Reagan administration.
His switch and backing of beleaguered Office of Legal Counsel nominee Dawn Johnsen, who supports abortion rights, did not go over well with some pro-life Roman Catholics. Last year, he was denied Communion.
But O’Connell indicated at the ceremony that Kmiec’s Catholic credentials are still intact.
“We still think of you as one of us,” O’Connell told Kmiec, Gilgoff reported.
U.S. News put Kmiec on its recent list of the top 10 most important faith leaders in the Obama administration.