Saturday, September 16, 2017
Saturday, September 09, 2017
I am not persuaded at all by these arguments. I wrote the following response.
Dear President Eisgruber:
I could not disagree more strongly with the sentiments expressed in your letter to the Judiciary Committee.
1. Religious beliefs are not, as you claim, "irrelevant" to the qualifications for a Federal judgeship. Would you, for example, be willing to confirm an otherwise-qualified judge who subscribed to the tenets of Christian Identity? (If you are not familiar with this religion, please consult https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Identity .)
2. Beliefs do not magically become off limits to questioning, probing, or otherwise investigating simply because one labels them "religious". As you know, there is significant debate about whether some belief systems, such as Scientology, are indeed religions. There is no bright line separating religion from other kinds of opinions one may hold.
3. It is absurd to claim that Professor Barrett's religious beliefs are not part of her judicial philosophy, when you yourself cite an article of hers that addresses precisely this issue.
4. You also should know that the "religious test" clause in the Constitution was in response to legislation, such as the Test Acts, that made it impossible for members of certain religions to hold public office. This Constitutional clause says nothing at all about whether voters may make up their minds based on a candidate's religious beliefs. Nor does it say that Judiciary Committee members may not evaluate the suitability of a candidate based on what he or she believes.
This kind of posturing is unworthy of you and unworthy of Princeton.
Jeffrey Shallit '79
In addition, I note that polls show that a large percentage of the American public would not vote for an atheist candidate. Why is it that this never merits letters of concern by people like President Eisgruber?
Many religious people want a double standard: the freedom to hold beliefs, no matter how pernicious or unsupported, and the right to never be questioned on those beliefs.
I guess he must be just too busy to answer. Too busy writing extremely important articles like this one, for example, which is the only article published so far this year in the intelligent design vanity journal, Bio-Complexity. A journal, by the way, for which the illustrious Robert J. Marks II is also the Editor in Chief! The intensive peer review that article must have undergone is rather mind-boggling. I wonder how many times he sent it back to himself for revision.