President Obama yesterday announced with scarcely-veiled delight the impending resignation of Justice David Souter from the Supreme Court of the United States. As if the President doesn't have enough to do, now he has to nominate a replacement for the highest court in the land. I wonder what kind of judge he'll choose. Well, in fact, the President made his guidelines and principles fairly clear during a press briefing yesterday, when he explained that he would be looking for a person with empathy who will take into consideration "the daily realities of people's lives" when he or she makes his or her interpretations of the Constitution. So we have the law, and we have a person who has a case before the Supreme Court. How should the justices rule? According to the President they must, of course, understand the law of the land; but they must also weigh the experiences, aspirations, and everyday lives of the people who are seeking a ruling from the Court. But wait a minute: Mr. Obama is a declared Christian. Presumably that means his view of all things is informed and guided by the teaching of Scripture - since for 2,000 years Christians have looked to the Bible for guidance in all aspects of life. But, oh my gosh, the Bible teaches that judges should not be partial to people - even to poor people or "sojourners" from other countries - when ruling on cases before them (cf. Dt. 16.18-20; Ex. 22.2, 3; Lev. 19.15, 16). What matters in seeking justice is not the circumstance or the daily realities of the people in question, but the law and the application of its principles to a specific instance. Justice is supposed to be blind to "mitigating circumstances." In the end, the judge's responsiblity is to apply the law to a particular case, not to bend the law or modify it to take into consideration extenuating circumstances or exceptional conditions. Surely the President knows this? Mr. President, do you want to conduct your administration in a manner consistent with the faith you profess to believe? Or does the faith you profess to believe not have anything to do with such mundane matters as how we interpret the law of the land?
T. M. Moore