Saturday, December 21, 2002

From the WSJ:

An article by Douglas Kmiec, possible nominee for the DC Court of Appeals, concerning "concerns" about his religious faith:

Judge Me By My Work

Does someone with this strong embrace of life and family warrant a presidential nomination to the federal bench? That is hardly for me to say, and I am not campaigning for appointment. I like teaching far too much for that, and I fully recognize that judicial service would preclude other counsel that I may now freely share with government leaders in these times of national emergency. I will point out, however, that as Ms. Aron and her counterparts frame the question, it is irrelevant. Transparent moral beliefs and a gratitude for the gift of life may be measures of the quality of a person; they are not, however, the most appropriate or direct yardstick for sizing up a potential federal appellate judge.

Why not an appropriate yardstick? Because disqualifying a person from a federal post on the basis of his religious or moral beliefs cuts deeply against the guarantee of religious freedom secured in the First Amendment; it might even contravene the Article VI admonition that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." And why not a direct yardstick? Because the job of a federal appellate judge is far more straightforward than these intractable issues--issues that, in the end, must be resolved as best we can within our many communities, informed less by top-down government edict than by bottom-up moral, religious and family belief.



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