I'm honestly undecided about Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court. She's got a distinguished record of legal service and scholarship, though few publications to document her views. Larry Lessig likes her, Glenn Greenwald doesn't. At the end of the day, President Obama likes her, and the general sense is that the Senate will like her well enough. She'll be confirmed, becoming the 3rd woman on the current Court, and the 4th ever to serve on the nation's highest court. Maybe Diane Wood will get the nod next time.
There's been some obnoxious nosecounting about her religious views, noting that she's jewish and John Paul Stevens was the last protestant on the Court. Pastor Dan tweeted this basic summary of the silliness sure to ensue:
Elena Kagan nominated to SCOTUS; religious concern trolls across the nation fret about a court WITH NO PROTESTANTS!
Yes, I'm forced to wonder, how ever will protestants exert influence on our nation?
As Sarah Posner pointed out a month ago, the absence of evangelicals (who are not the totality of American protestantism, but stillâ¦) from the Court truly does reflect what Mark Noll described as The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind: there is no evangelical mind. That is to say, there's little to no infrastructure for genuine intellectual discourse from a uniquely evangelical perspective. Baylor is the nearest thing to an evangelical research university, but its religious approach is fairly ecumenical these days.
Only in the last decade or so has there been a dedicated evangelical law school, and the products of the two such schools (Regent and Liberty) are decidedly below the standard expected of the Supreme Court. Part of the problem is simply that evangelicals have defined themselves politically in opposition to established standards of legal practice â not least in rejecting the (traditionally Baptist) value of separating church and state.
These schools also don't exactly attract the cream of the crop in terms of professors. Consider Cynthia Dunbar, the retiring Texas board of education member who declared that President Obama's election would result in terrorist attacks "by those with whom Obama truly sympathizes to take down the America that is threat to tyranny." In her book One Nation Under God, she argued that the creation of public schools "is unconstitutional and even 'tyrannical'." Again, she wrote this while serving on the Texas board of education, a body created by the state's constitution to purchase textbooks for every student.
True, her practices on the board verged on tyranny. She used her position to insert anti-evolution language throughout the new science standards last year, and to attack political liberals and the Founding Fathers' own secularism in new social studies and history standards this year. Thurgood Marshall didn't rate mention in the state's textbooks, despite arguing cases that struck down school discrimination and then serving for decades as the first black Supreme Court Justice. Phyllis Schlafly, however, who has done nothing in particular for the good of this nation, was added to the list of people Texas students should learn about (proposed language: "Phyllis Schlafly failed in several campaigns for public office, and then self-published a book in the 1960s. Having abandoned her own electoral ambitions, she backed failed presidential candidates Barry Goldwater and anti-Semite Pat Buchanan. Her major efforts have been directed against women's rights and for conspiracy theories about the United Nations.")
Cynthia Dunbar, the legal genius who said that she could not support changing inaccurate science standards because doing so could be seen as demonstrating an adverse "legislative intent," is a Visiting Professor at Liberty University. No one who takes a course with her should ever be considered eligible for the Supreme Court.
It's a disgrace that Thurgood Marshall will not be mentioned in Texas textbooks. I've also heard that Thomas Jefferson will not be inlcuded because the people on the Texas board didn't like his advocacy of seperation of church and state. The most horrendous thing is that Phyllis Schlafly is being mentioned in any textbook anywhere. The right thing to do would be completely erase her name from history, because she never did anything of value.