Saturday, December 17, 2016

What impact does faith have. . .

In the grand tradition of the US Supreme Court, Protestant justices have made up the vast majority of the 112 men and women who have served on the court.  Except today.  Although the Court has only eight members until a successor for the late Justice Antonin Scalia is confirmed, the composition of the Court includes no Protestants.  Jews make up less than two percent of the population, but three justices are Jewish (and, if Merrick Garland had been confirmed, it would have been four).  Four are Roman Catholic (five until the death of Scalia).  There are no Evangelicals.  There are no self-proclaimed atheists.

So what difference has this made?  The Court has intervened to make same sex marriage legal in all states -- an act of judicial activism that runs contrary to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.  The Court has chipped away slightly at the edges of the abortion decision but it has largely let in tact the legal status of abortion since 1973.  This is contrary to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.  Judaism is generally accepting of same sex marriage and of abortion, though there is no official doctrine on the subjects.

It should not matter the religion of the jurists but it does.  It matters because the SCOTUS has become the innovator of what constitutes morality with respect to marriage, family, and abortion (and the other life issues loosely ordered under this category).  It matters because apparently Roman Catholics are well equipped to ignore the teachings of their church and separate themselves from their faith when it comes to rendering a decision for all Americans.  But is this what we want?

Are we comfortable with justices whose religion seems to influence their judicial opinions very little?  Some may want this but I am not so sure.  Issues of morality have and will continue to press upon us as a nation and religion is the primary source of morality.  I would be more comfortable if our jurists were influenced by their faith than by the idea of a faith insulated from their role as jurists and de facto consciences for America as a nation.

It was already established by her own words that Hillary would continue to expand the role of the court as an activist, regularly exceeding the simple domain of what the Constitution says with what it ought to say and mean.  It remains to be seen if as President Trump will keep his pledge to appoint strict constructionists.  It is surely true that the invented rights of privacy, marital choice, and abortion will remain in the forefront of the conflicts and controversies that divide us as Americans.  How and what role the religion of the justices plays in rendering decisions is more than a curiosity.  In fact, it is telling of us as Americans that we seem to feel most comfortable with religious people whose religion impacts little upon their public lives -- whether they are justices or senators or congressmen or presidents.
Protestants have made up the large majority of the 112 men and women who have served as justices - See more at: http://www.libertylawsite.org/2016/11/11/no-protestants-on-the-bench/#sthash.2ZAvPXTV.dpuf
Protestants have made up the large majority of the 112 men and women who have served as justices - See more at: http://www.libertylawsite.org/2016/11/11/no-protestants-on-the-bench/#sthash.2ZAvPXTV.dpuf
Protestants have made up the large majority of the 112 men and women who have served as justices - See more at: http://www.libertylawsite.org/2016/11/11/no-protestants-on-the-bench/#sthash.2ZAvPXTV.dpuf

1 comment:

John J. Flanagan said...

In the past half century, America has moved to a secular and post-Christian era, and the values of the society, as well as the politics, has reflected this seismic transformation. Although there remains a strong remnant of believers and a visible presence of the church, the society at large is now more permissive and even hostile to God, His word, and His followers. Nevertheless, God is still in charge of His creation, and in some respects, whether we have an anti-Christian SCOTUS or not, we have to continue to be the beacon on the hill in a fallen world.