14 July 2009

Life imitates the crustybastard.

Interesting post over at Daily Dish by Conor Clarke titled What's the Point of Diversity on the Supreme Court? Clarke writes, "Yesterday's New York Times op-ed page published a bunch of possible confirmation questions for Sonia Sotomayor. Here's one from blogger and law professor Ann Althouse:
If a diverse array of justices is desirable, should we not be concerned that if you are confirmed, six out of the nine justices will be Roman Catholics, or is it somehow wrong to start paying attention to the extreme overrepresentation of Catholicism on the court at the moment when we have our first Hispanic nominee?
...As I understand it, her point isn't 'let's get rid of the damn Catholics.' The point of the question is: 'Why do we treat racial diversity as different — and potentially more desirable — than other kinds of diversity?' So, why do we?"
This conversation reminded me of something I posted on June 1:
...the current Supreme Court is 56% Catholic. If Sotomayor is confirmed, it will become 67% Catholic. That's an impressive accomplishment for any minority group...Hell, the percentages wouldn't particularly bother me except that the Catholic justices have shown such enthusiasm for ruling in ways that are clearly informed by the teachings of their faith over the terms and principles of the Constitution, the law, or the interests of justice.
Anyway, can we just quit pretending that one's identity and background don't inform one's decision-making, or if they do, that's always improper or off-limits? The fact that identity and background are relevant to deciding cases is precisely the reason why trial judges preside over hours and hours of voir dire where prospective jurors are questioned about their identities and backgrounds. The dirty little secret of voir dire? Jurors aren't questioned to exclude those who are biased — they're questioned to ensure that the panel is biased favorably.
So as to the SCOTUS nomination, I have no problem with interrogating a Catholic judicial nominee regarding his or her view of the RCC's penchant for church-state entanglements, his or her view of the Church's intervention in the American political process, and how he or she might address threats of excommunication based on a legal act or statement, etc.
That's not a religious test, it's a reasonable and sensible inquiry into how the nominee regards the interference of a foreign government, or whether a Catholic nominee is even capable of viewing his or her Church that way.

0 chimed in: