Question of the Week, Feb 8, 2017

Feb 8, 2017

Nominees to the Supreme Court must first answer questions at the Senate’s confirmation hearings, giving both lawmakers and the American public a chance to get a glimpse of a nominee’s underlying beliefs. If you had the chance to ask Judge Neil Gorsuch a question at these hearings, what would it be?

Our favorite answer will receive a copy of Brief Candle in the Dark by Richard Dawkins.

29 comments on “Question of the Week, Feb 8, 2017

  • What do you regard as your strengths that you would bring to this job as a Supreme Court judge : what do you regard as your limitations that you would bring to this job as a Supreme Court judge?

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  • Do you believe in ghosts?

    …a chance to get a glimpse of a nominee’s underlying beliefs…

    must say that I Don’t understand use of the word “belief” in this. Does it refers to a religious beliefes or any kind beliefs? Actually, I am puzzled by both meaning, because seems to me that a healthy person of common sense has no beliefs what so ever. And further more judges deal with facts not beliefs. Anyway, yes, it will be interesting to see how they will answer questions on beliefs.

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  • As a male, and without using religious metaphor or belief systems, how do you justify asserting control over a choice concerning exclusively a woman’s body via changing current judicial precedent?

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  • Could you cast a vote for something that will advance the entire human race in a positive way but may run counter to current religious belief systems and/or the belief systems of the ruling elites.

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  • carlbreathat 12

    Good one! I hope you get the prize.

    Pence and Kaine (a religious man) were asked that very question during the VP debate. Kaine answered the question to my satisfaction; Pence could not answer the question.

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  • 16
    kl.inidaho says:

    Is every taxpaying citizen of the United States entitled to affordable health care, regardless of current illness or future need based on Science, OR do you expect churches & communities to constantly organize fundraisers, helping people with treatment bills, when for-profit insurance refuses to cover needed care & costs?

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  • What is your interpretation of the first amendment clause Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

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  • The National Review stated “(You are), like Scalia, a textualist and an originalist: someone who interprets legal provisions as their words were originally understood.” Considering the specific the wording of the Bill of Rights, do you think the writers/ratifiers originally understood the words “person” and “people” to include pre-born human life? Do you think it reasonable to think that those who wrote/ratified the Bill of Rights originally understood or even envisioned pre-born human life “assembling” “petitioning the government” or “keeping and bearing Arms”, etc. for example?

    Read more at:

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  • “Uh…Thank you, uh… Phil, and let me just say how honored I am to be here and to have the opportunity in this great country to voice my opinion and to take questions from people who may not always agree with me – and that does sometimes happen [laughter} – that…uh, yes, I believe the writers of the Bill of Rights were pro life and understood that the unborn are people who have equal protection under the law. And I truly believe that they understood that corporations are to be protected by the first amendment. The National Review is too kind; I don’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the late and honorable Justice Scalia. [Wipes eyes] He was my mentor, my role model…”

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  • Laurie
    I thought that was Rimmer. My….er, bad.
    You watching the news? These raids are horrifying!
    I’m sure Flynn made some kind of deal and that Trump knew about it.
    I’m actually feeling somewhat optimistic. These awful people have no experience in government;
    they are bunglers. I like that guy Adam Schiff; he comforts me.

    Comment 12 is the best. He’s got 11 likes too.

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  • Judge Neil Gorsuch

    The secular idea and implementation is one of the most advanced polititics of this nation, yet some people aren’t agree with it, as their freedom allows them, they can go to the tribunal and dispute a legal battle. Would you allow the expression of freedom for those that aren’t allined or want to stablish a case founded with a religious bias, could you obstruct or deny based upon the opposite of your view?

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  • Hi Modsti [#5],

    [It] seems to me that a healthy person of common sense has no beliefs what so ever.

    The word belief is a tricky one. My Oxford English dictionary lists several meanings, and check out this last entry:

    [OE] *belief in^ Trust, faith, or confidence in (someone or something)

    To have a belief in some one or some thing has three subsidiary meanings that requires us to qualify which kind of belief we’re employing:

    Belief through faith: Beleif in someone or something explicitly without evidence.

    Belief through trust: Belief in someone or something because an authority figure, friend, or family member says that our belief is warranted.

    Belief through confidence: Belief in someone or something based on some factor or other – they talk with the same accent, they speak our language, they employ great rhetoric, they make us laugh, they demonstrate intelligence, they’re creative with new ideas or support the status quo and old ideas (a matter of taste) – or because they present evidence.

    Notice that the word belief therefore covers everything from faith to empiricism.

    We all have beliefs and a job interview that explores beliefs needs to be clear about what kind of beliefs are being discussed.

    … judges deal with facts not beliefs

    Given the meaning of belief, I don’t believe that to be true.


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  • Hello Stephen of Wimbledon #26

    Thank you for this clarification. 🙂

    I must say, at first I thought that questions are about religious beliefs that is why I was puzzled. Anyway I am still bit confused about judgments that are suposed to be based upon facts. Arn’t they? But I can see how in practice this can be undermined. Judges also have their private “beliefs” and opinions, and probably can not provide judgment based only on facts. That is why this question is interesting. Is it not? 🙂

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  • Stephen of Wimbledon #26
    Feb 12, 2017 at 1:49 am

    We all have beliefs and a job interview that explores beliefs needs to be clear about what kind of beliefs are being discussed.

    In the case of judges, it is especially true, as BELIEF in the credibility of witnesses and of expert witnesses, is key to courts making decisions.
    Biases or prejudices in favour of, or against, particular races, creeds, social classes, or subject specialisms, could seriously pervert judgements.

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  • Hi Modesti [#27],

    I am still bit confused about judgments that are suposed to be based upon facts. Arn’t they?

    I don’t know why you would be confused, but let me see if I can help.

    We make little judgements all the time: Eggs are good, sitting in traffic is bad. Keeping the cash you found in the street is wrong, pirating a forty year old movie is … against the law.

    I understand that you’re probably thinking on a higher plane of decision-making but in reality most of us, most of the time, make judgements on the really important things in exactly the same way that we judge the ordinary and everyday.

    If it smells right it gets a free pass.

    Clearly we should hold the legal profession to a higher standard, although it is my understanding that a SCOTUS Justice does not have to be a lawyer.

    Courts of law weigh the evidence of each case in the context of the law. The SCOTUS responds to requests to weigh the merit of legal arguments in the context of the principals set out in the Constitution.

    There are significant differences here, but the basic function is the same: To judge the veracity of the argument/evidence in the context of the rules.

    In such cases you are undoubtedly right: The judges/justices ought to begin by considering the facts, and to use those as the basis for building their arguments for how the law/constitution applies.

    Such a commitment demands that we know facts and the law (from this point on I’ll use only law courts as examples). The problem immediately arises that the Court is in no such position. In many cases (pun intended):

    The Court does not have access to all the facts
    The Court does not have a law that directly applies to the case in hand, or is ambiguous in other ways not foreseen by the Legislators
    The Court is provide with information that makes the facts appear less than factual

    This is, of course, why we have courts and not Judge Dredd.

    Succinctly: Courts are forced to make decisions not based on the known facts alone. Heinous though it is, perjury continues to exist. Evidence is tampered with. Mistakes are made. People are falsely accused and arrested.

    Law Makers forge immoral, anti-social, even anti-human laws almost daily. Law Courts cannot change the law, only those courts of appeal permitted to apply the principles described in higher forms of law such as a constitution, bill of rights, or declaration, can throw down such laws.

    There are a number of legal principles that apply, and which vary according to jurisdiction. The best of these is innocent until proven guilty. Another, and one which we in the West generally, and falsely, assume to be universal is: That the Court will be honest, fair and objective. The most obvious evidence to the contrary is seen in religious courts and in countries that are fascist or communist.

    Should the Judge’s beliefs have any bearing on a case before them? Independent of which meaning of belief we’re using, and as far as standard court procedures allow, the obvious answer is no. The Judge is in the highest place of trust, and must act for all citizens in ensuring that the principle of a fair and honest trial applies – they must epitomise blind justice, or risk undermining the very basis of a just society itself.

    As far as a SCOTUS Justice is concerned, the problem of beliefs is somewhat different; a Justice must, by definition, apply the Constitution to cases not foreseen by the Constitution’s authors.

    In addition, the authors were, in some important respects, ambiguous. We’re talking about a guide book slim enough to fit into the back pocket of a tight pair of jeans here – but it’s the cure for all social ills … according to some …

    Even more important, the Founders of the United States made some major blunders. They failed to foresee that, once the country had settled, partisan politics would arise.

    The Founding Fathers also failed to understand that the Constitution would be venerated, and their own selves deified. Most, if not all of them, approved of what most people, even today, would consider a detailed and robust secular school education – and that a free press would always view its role, principally, as disseminators of fact, and investigators of truth. If we could bring them to today in a time machine they would be shocked and disappointed.

    The constitution authors knew that they were only human. They put on their pants one leg at a time, just like the rest of us. They made provision for constitutional amendments. Our Time Travellers would be surprised to learn just how little the constitution has been changed.

    In this environment a SCOTUS Justice must, almost every time, face applying judgement.

    It seems to me, at some considerable distance it must be said, that any dogma, code or extra-judicial mandate that a Justice feels, however subjectively, may be applied to the constitution will, be applied to the constitution.

    The question: ‘What are your beliefs, and how might they apply in your post as a Supreme Court Justice?’ has never been in more pressing need of being asked. As are the qualification questions on how the Nominee defines belief.

    I hope that helps.


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