Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Supreme Court Justices, Religion, & Anti-Catholicism

See John Henry's post at The American Catholic: "Supreme Court Justices and Religion":
To ask some questions is to answer them, and via Commonweal, I see that UCLA history professor emeritus Joyce Appleby has penned a lovely exercise in anti-Catholicism entitled, Should Catholic Justices Recuse Selves On Certain Cases?

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In response, David Gibson at Commonweal notes that he, as well as all of the Catholic Justices on the Court, would argue that the teachings of the Church have no bearing on their rulings. Nevertheless, Ms. Appleby apparently believes the Justices cannot be taken at their word on this matter. Catholic justices, it seems, can’t be trusted.

What interests me about this line of argument is that both Mr. Gibson and Ms. Appleby implicitly assume there is something wrong with religious beliefs influencing Justices. And I am curious about what that something is. For instance, Judge Sotomayor is famously on the record for saying that a judge’s background (i.e. gender, ethnicity, life experience) influences their decision-making, as is Justice Ginsberg if I am not mistaken. Yet there have been no calls for the recusal of female (or male) judges from gender discrimination cases.


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3 Comments:

At 6/11/2009 6:22 AM, Blogger craig said...

"Ms. Appleby implicitly assume there is something wrong with religious beliefs influencing Justices. And I am curious about what that something is."

From Ms. Appleby's article:

When WASPs dominated the courts, discrimination against Catholics and Jews was rampant, not to mention the prejudices affecting the lives of blacks and women.

Wasn't difficult for me to determine what that something was.

 
At 6/11/2009 8:52 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

Mmmmm, nope. Still not seeing what that has to do with being influenced by one's religious beliefs.

 
At 6/11/2009 12:26 PM, Blogger Darwin said...

Craig,

Hard to see how that would be the explanation, since even earlier when the country was run by Englightenment era rationalist deists with little loyalty to any given denomination, the faults you cite were even more pronounced.

Indeed, it was the religiously motivated abolitionist and later progressive movement which started to do away with some of those problems.

You know that thing about correllation not necessarily indicating causation?

 

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