Atheist for Supreme Court?
This is a no-brainer. The religious views of the next justice of the high court must absolutely be a decisive factor.
Though the court without Stevens will be left with six Catholics and two Jews, the open seat should not go to either domination. Nor should it go to a Presbyterian, a Lutheran, a Methodist, a Muslim or even a Zoroastrian. If it did, that would make nine people who all have one religious principle in common: a belief in religion.
Clearly, the next person to take the bench should be an atheist.
Having an atheist justice, however, would not primarily be a matter of identity politics and some sort of equal representation. Rather, a nonbeliever justice would be a mighty blow in favor of the secular principles of “reason and freedom” of which Jefferson spoke.
Heaven knows we could use some more of that stuff. Religion plays far too influential a role in our political and civic life as is. I personally don’t care what sort of superstition makes you sleep better at night, but I think we would all benefit if you left it behind closed doors and kept it as far away as possible from public policy. How about a policy of don’t ask, don’t tell?
We’ve got quite a way to go to get even close to the stark separationism that is constitutionally enshrined but far too often ignored. We’ve recently been humiliated by a spate of local school boards dominated by fundamentalist Christians, undermining the teaching of science and inching us back into the shadows of ignorance.
Cooper’s the kind of smarmy, insulting atheist that makes the rest of us look bad. And I’ve redacted the paragraphs of gratuitous insults surrounding his argument.
Would I like to see us evolve so that an uncloseted atheist on the Court wouldn’t be a big deal? Or where a majority avow they would not vote for an atheist for president, the only group so singled out in the Gallup survey? Sure.
Would an atheist on the Court help push us in that direction, much as Sandra Day O’Connor pushed the normalization of women in high office? Probably.
Do I support atheism as “a deciding factor” in picking the next Justice? Absolutely not. It’s just as insulting and silly to yield to identity politics on religious grounds as it is for race, ethnicity sex, or sexual orientation. Just pick the best under-60 legal mind within the broad ideological orbit of the president that’s confirmable.
Alan Colmes justifies an atheist for the Court in an odd manner: “So instead of trying to balance the court with someone who isn’t Catholic or Jewish, maybe it’s time to think outside of religion entirely. Now that’s diversity!” That’s true if and only if it happens naturally. If the president is actively seeking an atheist, then — by definition — he’s not “think[ing] outside of religion entirely.”
Further, as AllahPundit (also an atheist) notes, “In a country where half the population is Protestant, good luck selling the public on the idea that it’s the godless who are underrepresented on the bench.” Further, the politics aren’t exactly smart: “I’d pay cash money to see The One stand up at the podium in the Rose Garden and make the case to voters that the Supreme Court’s big shortcoming is that it’s not hard enough on religion.”
Beyond all that, it’s quite likely Cooper is operating from a false premise. It’s a virtual certainty that there has been an atheist on the Court by now; indeed, it’s quite likely one’s sitting on the bench now. While atheism is a decidedly minority position in America writ large, it’s exceedingly common among the intellectual class which serves as the pool from with Supreme Court Justices are selected.
Yes, all the current returning Justices identify themselves as either Catholic or Jewish. But both of those, especially the latter, are ethnoreligious identity groups as much as they’re religions. Indeed, some 37 percent of American Jews identify themselves as non-religious. There’s theoretically no such thing as a secular Catholic; in reality, though, they’re a fairly large subset of the American Catholic elite.