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8/6/10

No Gays or Holy Rollers on the Supreme Court? Who Cares? (Do you?)

There are two people we are afraid to have on the Supreme Court: a committed Evangelical Christian and an openly gay man. Just that assumption stated alone is enough to roil the blood of a few who want vehemently one or the other.

Gays? Holy rollers? Worse, more pejorative terms exist for both. My Facebook account shows how tiny minded some people are as they categorize others into insultingly limited groups. I have seen some ugly things among otherwise good people. We live a corrosive society which works hard to demonize the assumed opposition by denigrating people into inescapable boxes, and Lady Liberty becomes nothing but a statue, not a living truth.

Presently under fire is the sexual orientation of the federal judge who overturned California's ban on gay marriage. Some are arguing he is gay. If so, so what?

Meanwhile, according to Gallup, with Elena Kagan approved and Justice John Paul Stevens stepping down, there are no Protestants (Evangelical, liberal Methodist, and otherwise) on the Supreme Court. 54% of Americans call themselves non-Catholic Christians, so that is arguably something worth looking at. That is, if fair representation of people groups is your thing. Stevens, interestingly enough, was known as a liberal judge.

Either way, whether in their person life, the judge is flaming, effeminate and gay marching in gay pride parades wearing a skirt, or a Christian volunteering for Habitat for Humanity or Salvation Army, praying before entering the chambers after taking her son to Awana -- should it matter?

To be a Supreme Court judge, first off, the person needs a juris doctorate, a law degree. They need admittance to the Bar, and have put more than a few years working up the judicial ladder. A paper trail will exist. What they judged, related comments, perhaps some articles in law journals.

Meanwhile, they are vetted. When a spot opens up through either retirement or death, a big list of possible candidates are run through and filtered through various channels. The result is many are culled out because of personality, reliance on their feelings and not law, expectation that they will retire too soon, and a myriad of other reasons. Hopefully, and I'm not so naive to think this is a pure process, biased judges toward certain decisions will be cleared out. That is, judges who, no matter what the Constitution says, believe abortion is a right or a wrong will be chucked from the list. 

People are people, true, and no one judges as a machine. However, I believe if we surveyed America and asked if they preferred to see an openly homosexual judge sitting on the Supreme Court, they would say no. Similarly, if we surveyed that same portion of America and asked if they preferred to see an openly Evangelical judge sitting on the Supreme Court, they would say no. Or yes. Depends on the person surveyed's bias, don't you think?

Either way, I wish we were not so simple minded as all that. Some voters will openly admit they voted for Barack Obama because he is black. To me, that's redneck thinking gone backwards. History will not judge Obama's success as a president with the qualifier, "He did well for a black man." Other voters, equally racist, voted against Obama because he is black. That his mother was white didn't matter to either voter. Racism did impact the election. We all know it. Obama wants the economy to get better, unemployment to improve, and for fewer soldiers to die under his watch that under Bush's. He is not looking at the back of his hand saying, "Look at me, a black man in a white house." He is saying, "These hands need to help America." I don't agree with all of his solutions, but his skin color is not what I disagree with. His hands do need to help America.

I want unbiased Supreme Court justices. I don't know how we honestly ascertain this given the humanity of every candidate who will ever be considered. I do not think we need a gay man on the Supreme Court. We also do not need an Evangelical Christian. Or a one-legged Viet Nam veteran. Or a three-legged test tube baby. All black? All white? Diversity has no place in the Supreme Court. We need only smart, objective students of Constitutional law qualified not by their skin color, sexual orientation, who they pray to, but by their amazing credentials as sensible, diligent, careful judges. Anything less just isn't American.
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