U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has objected to the era of the “moralist” judge, arguing that they are not qualified to decide moral questions like gay marriage and abortion. He places the gravity for such things with the elected legislators and points as an example to the constitutional amendment of 1920 that gave women the right to vote. Given that activist judges with a leftist bent gave us Roe vs. Wade, reading something into the Constitution that was not there, Justice Scalia has a point. Who is to say that activist judges cannot be just as abusive when they come from the other side of the ideological spectrum? While a few judges like Clarence Thomas have an extensive philosophical and ethical formation; many judges would not consider possible moral absolutes and the natural law. Unfortunately, I am not sure that voters, and least of all elected representatives, would possess the necessary formation and personal integrity to deal coherently with the major questions of the day, either.
Speaking for myself, I like judges, who prefer long-standing precedent; who have a vast respect for the inalienable rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and who are somewhat unoriginal and literal in their thinking. Creativity is great in the artist and poet, I am not so sure about judges.
The large Catholic presence on the Supreme Court is quite amazing. Even Judge Bork, denied a place on the Court, was baptized by my dear spiritual father, Msgr. William Awalt, at the Catholic Information Center in DC. He is now a Christian and a Catholic. Justice Clarence Thomas was received back into the Catholic Church through the ministry of another brother priest in Washington. While Scalia sometimes attends his son’s Masses in Virginia, he and Thomas often attend the Tridentine Latin Mass at Old St. Mary’s in Chinatown, DC. Pat Buchanon, although a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament, is also a regular there.