Richie O – JULY 13, 2018
Instantaneously, as the letter of resignation from Justice Kennedy was sent to the President, the nation became divided, yet again, as we were set to place another justice on the Supreme Court. Naturally, the nation has been engaging in debate over the replacement to fulfill this vacancy. From this debate, an important question has been raised, even more so since the announcement of Judge Kavanaugh as the nominee to fill Justice Kennedy’s seat. Should a judge’s religious beliefs be significant? As a Christian myself, I believe that a judge’s religious beliefs do matter, to an extent.
I do not believe that it should be considered a litmus test for a judge’s ability to be appointed to the Supreme Court. As in, no person should be immediately disqualified based on the religious belief that they hold. Still, a judge’s religious belief is significant when it comes to the rulings that a judge makes. The responsibility of the Court is to interpret the Constitution and apply it on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, if a judge allows his/her religious beliefs to affect his/her ruling in a way that contradicts a freedom the Constitution may afford, then it becomes problematic.
Again, there is nothing wrong with holding religious beliefs and simultaneously serving on the Supreme Court, but it is not the place to make religious desires a reality if they are not proper interpretations of the Constitution. The place for such a thing is in the United States Congress, not the Supreme Court. If you are passionate about a religious issue, and you believe this would be a good policy for the United States, then run for the U.S. Congress. Such is the liberty of being a lawmaker, the ability to create law. The role of the Court is not to create policy.
Conservatives, or more broadly evangelicals, engage in the very thing they accuse more liberal-minded judges of doing, namely creating policy from the bench. I think evangelicals are quick to call out such behavior when it leads to decisions and impacts they do not like. However, they now seem just as apt to use such a method for their own gain. This is when a judge’s religious beliefs becomes negatively significant. The role of the Court is to interpret the Constitution, not a secondary means to actualize policy positions we cannot pass through Congress.
More so, I believe it detrimental when it is apparent that Constitutional freedoms are being denied by the judiciary on religious grounds, no matter how moral or immoral one feels that freedom may be. The place to create that change is in the United States Congress, never through the courts. Judges are appointed to interpret laws as they exist, and congressmen are elected to create or change law. It is vital that these roles should never be reversed, no matter how righteous a cause may seem. The integrity of this nation depends on respecting the separation of powers put forth by the framers in the Constitution.