"It's all well and good to hear that Roberts gets a lump in his throat when he thinks about the Supreme Court and that he's "anchored in modern law" (New York Times). But we've got ourselves a ballgame here, with big-time consequences. The mainstream media would do us a lot of good by not being obtuse about it."Slate has too many interesting articles to even cite. The line of inquiry I'd like to see more of stems from Chris Mooney's Intersection science policy blog: Mooney wondered if Roberts had had anything to say about the main Evolution case of the Reagan era, Edwards v. Aguillard. This is now a really interesting question in light of Bush's recent bizarre mouthings on Intelligent Design. (I dislike Christopher Hitchens and his often uselessly broad strokes, but this frayster made a good summary of Hitchens's most possibly relevant point regarding Roberts's Catholocism. I don't think it is relevant per se; what is relevant is a candidate's willingness or unwillingness to do his law and politics without calling upon his religion.) Evolution might be a hotbutton issue, but there's a deeper, wider issue we need to discuss. Quoth Intersection commenter John Hrynyshyn:
"While the notion of "litmus tests" for judicial appointees is rife with problems, it strikes me that asking Roberts about his views on evolution are entirely appropriate and constitutes a superior line of inquiry than those involving the likes of Roe v Wade. Surely we should demand from our judges a respect for the scientific method. Has any nominee ever been asked such a thing? If not, now is the time." (Emphasis mine.)Back at Columbia, when Dean Lemann was outlining some of his ideas for the new second year MA program, he mentioned wanting courses that discuss the relationship between journalistic, legal, and scientific evidence. (The necessity for this is sadly apparent when reading coverage of Bush's mumblings: see Mooney today.) Writing about mistaken convictions, I spoke with a Judge who spent a lot of time worrying about how to best instruct jurors in the consideration of scientific evidence. But who instructs Judges in the consideration of scientific evidence? Now Harvard Law School, Roberts's Alma Mater, has a seminar on the "Treatment of Scientific Evidence in the Courts" and for all I know the many Evidence courses substantially treat the subject. (Anyone know?) But it will be a while before today's Law School grads are candidates for Supreme Court Justice. Was this part of Roberts's education? If not, has he caught up with the times? He's young and healthy and if appointed should preside well into the 21st century.
Spring 2006: Guest Bloggers!
Rishi | Scott | Emily
Echan | Robert | ToastyKen