Put an Atheist on the Supreme Court, By Lawrence M. Krauss, February 18, 2016, The New Yorker

Put an Atheist on the Supreme Court

I am a strong supporter of separation of church and state. The Court's members at the present time, all to a varying degree, are Roman Catholic or Jewish. The Constitution heartily indicates that judicial arguments and judgments should not be based on religious partiality. The Ten Commandments belong in houses of worship. Laws belong in the secular domain.  

The table below shows the religious affiliation of each of the justices sitting as of February 2016:

Anthony Kennedy, Roman Catholic, 1988
Clarence Thomas, Roman Catholic, 1991
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Jewish, 1993
Stephen Breyer, Jewish, 1994
John Roberts, Roman Catholic, 2005
Samuel Alito, Roman Catholic, 2006
Sonia Sotomayor, Roman Catholic, 2009
Elena Kagan, Jewish, 2010

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_Supreme_Court_of_...

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I'd be happy if the nominee belonged to Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, whatever their religion or nonreligion.

Yes, there are people who practice religion who also uphold secular government.

Yes! Yes! We know that! What we don't know is that there are people who acknowledge religion who practice atheism.  .

Joan, I can't imagine a judge who wants to be considered for the SCOTUS admitting to being an Atheist,  and I can't imagine a president who would nominate an Atheist, and there wouldn't be a chance in hell of an Atheist getting through the consent hearings.

As much as all of the people on AN would like to see it, it ain't gonna happen.

Nice thought though.

Donald, we have been out of the Dark Ages for a few years, and the Age of Enlightenment evolves humankind into a new natural order of things. To let religious dogma tell us what and how to think ended long ago. We have to push the boundaries of tradition and usher in the notion that we have brains that serve us well. Every time a person needs a moral base, the very last place one should look is the holy scriptures of Abrahamic faiths. 

Sam Harris makes a compelling argument against religion as a moral guiding light in his book, “The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values”. Religious dogma offers only empty promises of another life after this one ends and it proffers the threat of eternal damnation if one does not submit.

Yes, in today’s environment, it is hard, if not impossible to think of an atheist president, or of any elected official. There have been a few, but very few who acknowledge their lack of faith in a superhuman being.  

My great-grandmother started to push for women’s right to vote, and it didn’t happen until 1920 when my mother was three years old. 

So! Let’s get started!

Joan, I agree with everything you've said.  But with Atheists only making up less than 10% of the population at the most,  no one is going to jeopardize their political standing by going in our direction.  The percentages are getting better for us, but not good enough to make someone want to ruin their career.

Maybe there are firebrand atheists who don't have anything to lose by going public while running for political office. As the older generation dies off, the younger ones grow into adulthood. My bet is on fewer religious young as time goes on. What is your bet?  

That's already happening.  Hooray!!

Thanks for pushing us, Joan.  We need it.

Our present president was raised essentially humanist; some of us suspect that training is still back there somewhere, hidden from sight.  And it's interesting that our best Christian-behaving candidate is a Jew -- probably a non-theistic one. Every year more and more voters consider that a non-issue.

An atheist Justice, by contrast, would have different intellectual habits. I suspect that he or she would be more likely to focus on reason and empirical evidence.
-- Lawrence Krauss, from the article

Actually, shouldn't all nine of them be considering The LAW, as their primary point of focus?  If we are one nation under anything, I would hope it would be the laws of this country and not the social, sexual, or political attitudes of its politicians and jurists.  Sadly, the current distance between de jure and de facto could probably be measured in light-years.  It has long been that way regarding the Legislative branch of our government, and over the past 30 years or so has crept into the Judicial as well, to the detriment of the overall health of our government.

A further problem is that, insofar as I am aware, there is no mechanism for removing a Supreme Court justice who indulges in activities which compromise his duties as a justice.  Both Thomas and Scalia are alleged to have been involved in such, yet I've heard of no governmental investigative action taken, never mind punitive.  I suspect the lack of action reflects the same political polarization which hampers the processes under the dome of the Capitol in recent years.  We talk about governmental gridlock; what seems to be on the horizon is governmental paralysis, and one addition to the Supreme Court would amount to a Band-Aid on a broken limb.

Until and if we find a means of overcoming the rank us-vs-them attitude which permeates our politics, all this situation will do is get worse.

Oh yes! the shoulda, oughta, gotta consider The LAW! Well, it will come if voters make such a demand! Also, if judgments stand on religious doctrine they should be able to win on appeal. 




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