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Does Religious Affiliation Really Affect How A Judge Rules?

March 25, 2022

The Senate is currently holding a confirmation hearing for the Biden-approved potential Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, and during the hearing, Senators are allowed to present their views on a candidate, and ask them any questions pertaining to the job.

On Wednesday, Senator Lindsay Graham asked Brown Jackson about the importance her faith, and asked her to rank her faith on a scale of 1-10:

Grahams questioning has been controversial because any judge must put aside their personal bias when making decisions in legal matters.

According to a 2009 study, research found that when a judge practices Catholic faith, they are more likely to side with the injured person or the “economic underdog”, yet when a judge practices Protestant faith, there was no leaning found.

Overall, the research found that a judge’s personal religious beliefs did indeed have a big impact on their voting patterns:

Evangelical judges were significantly more conservative than judges from other religious backgrounds in all three types of cases—that is, they more often voted to uphold the death
penalty, maintain the gender gap, and restrict free speech in obscenity cases. Jewish judges were consistently the most liberal; mainline Protestant judges were liberal on the death penalty and obscenity, but less so on gender discrimination (though they were still more liberal than evangelical judges). Of the various groups, Catholic judges’ behavior varied the most depending on the issue: They were liberal on gender discrimination, in the middle on the death penalty, and nearly as conservative as the evangelical judges on obscenity. Thus, there are differences among Protestant Christian faiths as well as between the major religious classifications. This finding makes sense in light of the wide diversity of beliefs among different Protestant denominations.

Now, what we need to remind ourselves that while many of us may agree or disagree with a nominee to the Supreme Court, that God is in control, and that whomever is given that position is a part of God’s ultimate plan.

Ketanji Brown Jackson will likely be the next person and the first black woman on the Supreme Court.

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