By Matthew D. Schultz
Grab a pencil and jot down 3 political topics that are not impacted by your religious beliefs. Choose carefully. If you do this in a group setting as I have, you’ll notice a rare thing: Zero consensus. There is no one political topic that we could all agree on as having no religious or moral implications.
This is one reason (among many) that it is important to be sure that our system of law remains independent from any one particular ideology. People of faith have every right to voice their views of morality and ethics; to speak truth to power. Indeed, it is our responsibility as citizens to voice our views on matters of social justice and concern for those in need, for as Augustine said, “charity is no substitute for justice withheld.”
However, history has shown that when any one religion gains too much political power, other religious groups suffer. Secular institutions such as our government protect diversity of belief, and that is healthy for all religions. This dynamic comes up frequently, and is set to come up again in this next legislative session with a bill that seeks to change the makeup of the Alaska Judicial Council.
The Judicial Council evaluates applicants for judgeships, and nominates the most highly qualified applicants to the Governor, who makes the final appointment. Currently, the council consists of three public members chosen by the governor, and three lawyer members chosen by the Alaska Bar Association. This makeup assures that the judges selected are the ‘Tallest Timber’: the most qualified and professionally respected. It reduces the influence of partisan politics, special interests, and money that have so deeply wounded our political system.
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