Reasonably Ascertainable Reality

Thoughts and musings on current events and other random occurrences.

Location: South Jersey, United States

Monday, July 25, 2005

SCOTUS update

So I've been reading all the news on John Roberts and I have to say I haven't seen anything that stands out and says 'REJECT'. The Democrats appear to be paving the way for a tough confirmation, but a confirmation none the less. It is their job to make their opposition to some points known, so I grant them that.
Having said all that, this is one of the first things I've read about Roberts which really gives me pause.

The exchange occurred during one of Roberts' informal discussions with senators last week. According to two people who attended the meeting, Roberts was asked by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considers immoral. Roberts is a devout Catholic and is married to an ardent pro-life activist. The Catholic Church considers abortion to be a sin, and various church leaders have stated that government officials supporting abortion should be denied religious rites such as communion. (Pope Benedict XVI is often cited as holding this strict view of the merging of a person's faith and public duties).

Renowned for his unflappable style in oral argument, Roberts appeared nonplused and, according to sources in the meeting, answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself.

Let me start off by saying that I don't think this is reason to reject Roberts. I also don't agree that this is a 'Catholic test'. This is an extremely important question and the answer Roberts gave was wrong.

When you are a judge, you take an oath. Not an oath to uphold your religion, but an oath to uphold the Constituation of this great nation. No one is saying that Roberts can't hold true to his Catholic beliefs. But if you can not make the distinction between your own morality and the law of the land, then you should choose another occupation besides 'judge'. If you have to recuse yourself because you can not be impartial, then that is a problem.

Some of our tougest moral dilemmas come to the Supreme Court--abortion, death penalty, assisted-suicide. Roberts is entitled to his personal views on all of those issues. However, to not be able to take part in the case because of his religious beliefs is borderline useless. Roberts has shown every indication of being a follower of the Constitution and if he can't hold that track when it comes to cases having deep moral implications, then he should not be on the Supreme Court, and really, on any court.

He will have to decide for himself if he has chosen the correct career path. This is an important question and I expect to see it raised several more times, as it should be. Roberts should explain himself and his view on this pressing issue.


Blogger Dave Justus said...

Forget about the whole Catholic thing.

What should a judge do if the law as written requires them to do something that they believe is immoral?

Scalia has said in such a circumstance a person should resign. Roberts believes that recussal is sufficient.

However, both probably believe that abortion is not an issue of that nature. Anne Althouse explains why.

Given that Scalia has not seen fit to resign, there is no indication that Roberts will feel a need to recuse himself from any cases for this reason.

2:25 PM  

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