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  1. #1
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    Religious Test for the Supreme Court

    Should there be a religious test for the Supreme Court?

    When judge Amy Coney Barrett, a devout Catholic and mother of seven, was nominated to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017, Senator Diane Feinstein said during the confirmation hearing "“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country." This came some time after a point in the hearing when Barrett said “It is never appropriate for a judge to apply their personal convictions whether it derives from faith or personal conviction.”

    Should there be a (non)religious test for the nomination and confirmation of judges, especially for the Supreme Court?

    Judge Barrett is said to be on the very short list of judges being considered by President Trump for Justice Kennedy's replacement on the high court.

    My position is that religion or the lack of it should not be a factor in deciding whether to confirm the nominee.
    "If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth." - Ronald Reagan

  2. #2
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    Re: Religious Test for the Supreme Court

    I totally agree with you, and would say that a candidate's religious views, or lack thereof, should not be a factor when considering their applicability for any government position.

    Though, since you did ask about testing nominees, it did get me thinking that there might be a place for some kind of test to ensure that the nominee would not be influenced by their religious (or not) views while performing the duties of their office. I guess the test would really be to ensure that they are able to perform the duties completely impartially with respect to the constitution, and so wouldn't necessarily be geared towards testing for (non-)religious biases, but for any biases.

    I know that it's kinda part of many office's oaths when being sworn in, but that's not really an assurance, is it?

    Of course, I have no idea what form that test would take or how it would be administered, I'm just saying that I think there could be room for something to check for biases, which would obviously include those related to religion.
    I know that there are some pretty involved and comprehensive tests - even just written ones - that purport to be able to accurately evaluate/analyze a person to a granular level over many different metrics.

  3. #3
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    Re: Religious Test for the Supreme Court

    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy View Post
    I totally agree with you, and would say that a candidate's religious views, or lack thereof, should not be a factor when considering their applicability for any government position.
    You're against using religious views as a factor in confirmation. Check.


    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy View Post
    Though, since you did ask about testing nominees, it did get me thinking that there might be a place for some kind of test to ensure that the nominee would not be influenced by their religious (or not) views while performing the duties of their office. I guess the test would really be to ensure that they are able to perform the duties completely impartially with respect to the constitution, and so wouldn't necessarily be geared towards testing for (non-)religious biases, but for any biases.
    But you want to make absolutely sure religion won't factor into any judge's decision making, so you're going to apply a hypothetical test to every judge in America. Got it.

    And would you do the same religious influence test for every political candidate?

    How about a test to screen for political beliefs that are incompatible with American democracy, such as Marxism-Communism? Are you okay with that also?


    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy View Post
    I know that it's kinda part of many office's oaths when being sworn in, but that's not really an assurance, is it?
    No, you want to be absolutely sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by futureboy View Post
    Of course, I have no idea what form that test would take or how it would be administered, I'm just saying that I think there could be room for something to check for biases, which would obviously include those related to religion.
    I know that there are some pretty involved and comprehensive tests - even just written ones - that purport to be able to accurately evaluate/analyze a person to a granular level over many different metrics.
    Can you tell me how you're going to make sure the test developers aren't secretly slanting the questions and results? Are you going to test them to be certain? How would you do that?
    "If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth." - Ronald Reagan

  4. #4
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    Re: Religious Test for the Supreme Court

    So long as the candidate doesn't put their religious views ahead of their duty as a judge, then there should be no religious test. (Indeed it would be strictly unconstitutional to have such a test.)

    There have been a few judges who have put their religion over their duty from time to time, but it's pretty rare.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Religious Test for the Supreme Court

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    So long as the candidate doesn't put their religious views ahead of their duty as a judge, then there should be no religious test.
    What if Senators suspect a nominee will do so, but have no proof - is that legitimate reason to vote against confirmation?
    "If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth." - Ronald Reagan

  6. #6
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    Re: Religious Test for the Supreme Court

    Quote Originally Posted by evensaul View Post
    What if Senators suspect a nominee will do so, but have no proof - is that legitimate reason to vote against confirmation?
    Well, an individual is going to vote their conscience (or at least they should). If they are convinced for some reason that a person cannot be a competent judge, they should not vote for them. I have a hard time seing how they would think that without some pretty compelling evidence of some kind.

    Legitimate is a bit of a hard word to parse in this context. I can't read their mind and see if they have genuine concerns or simply are voting based on partisanship or ideological grounds. I can only say whether I think they made a well reasoned decision or not based on what I know or have read.

    I tend to be of a mind that a well qulified judge should get a pretty easy ride onto the court, but history does have a goodly number of cases where the senate or political winds blocked a nomination.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Religious Test for the Supreme Court

    In answer to, should there be a religious test... NO. Not just no. Hell no! Being in public office does not mean you leave your conscience at the door. However, good judges constrain their rulings to the law. Why are we even having this debate? Could it be that some group of political mouthpieces have openly mused that certain people may be too religious to hold government positions? As Diane Feinstein may put it, the dogma may live too strongly in some people to be public servants. However, and I could be wrong here, but the Constitution specifically says there shall be no religious tests to hold any office. Let me check my handy-dandy pocket Constitution (i.e. the internet)

    Article 6
    "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

    Yup, its there alright. It doesn't even mince words. There really can be little interpretation left to the imagination on this one. This isn't a 2nd amendment sort of clause where we are discussing the colonial meaning of "arms". It couldn't be more clear. If you are religious you may hold office. Period. Does not matter if the dogma runs like a river through your golden god-filled lungs while baby angels follow you wherever you go. We don't get to make that a part of your qualifications (or lack thereof).

    Again, and I made this point in another thread. It is good that we have liberals who question our constructs and laws. As a society we absolutely need that balance. There should be a question on how we integrate different faiths and values within a, broadly speaking, secular society. And there are and will be conflicts. Abortion is a great example. We have two absolutely incompatible views. So, is the answer to prevent people from holding positions that oppose your view based on some arbitrary measurement of their religiosity? And this could easily work both ways. In fact, it wasn't long ago that being labeled an atheist could disqualify someone from a government position. It was a big deal when JFK won as a Catholic. Just something to think about before we consider offering up religious tests.

    By the way, and here is where I get a little ideological myself; nominating judges who are strict texturalists (i..e originalist jurists) seems much better than the alternative if you're looking to have courts call balls and strikes rather than legislating based on whatever their own world views happen to be.

    The U.S. is currently enduring a zombie apocalypse. However, in a strange twist, the zombie's are starving.

 

 

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