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Supreme Court Nomination

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John G. Roberts Jr., President Bush's pick to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court, has dealt closely with some of the most controversial issues in education as an appellate advocate.

As principal deputy U.S. solicitor general during the administration of President George H.W. Bush, Roberts helped write multiple Supreme Court briefs that took conservative positions on such education issues as graduation prayers, school desegregation, and the scope of Title IX.

What are your thoughts on Judge Roberts' nomination? Will this affect the way education cases are decided in the Supreme Court?

4 Comments

John Roberts' positions as Solicitor General are irrelevant -- he was representing the government as a client and not espousing personal views. Of course, he may actually hold these positions, but his opinions as a solicitor general are not fair for discussion. You would be confusing a solicitor general's governmental duties with his personal opinions on these issues. Either way, these questions were not addressed with Ruth Bader Ginsburg (former lead counsel for the ACLU) who held to extremist views such as legalizing prostitution, etc. And she received a free pass from Congress at the time on her liberal position. Roberts deserves similiar treatment at the very least.

And I sincerely hope that he works to restore religious freedoms that have slowly been eroded in the past 40 years. Graduaton prayers hardly constitute an "establishment of religion". Besides, public schooling at every level was started by explicitly religious institutions. Only in the last century did it become a ward of the government. As recently as the 1960's, the Bible was still being studied as a religious (vs. historical or literary) document. I hope John Roberts plays a part in restoring what has taken from the Judeo-Christian foundation of the freest naton in the world. We chip away at this foundation at our own peril.

I'm very concerned about moving away from moderates to extremists. Personally, while I tend to lean toward the left side of the political scale...I think that moderation is a much better policy.

Also, I am curious about the definition of religious freedoms that Scott makes a comment about. The way I am reading it, and perhaps I am wrong, is that freedom is ok as long as it is Judeo-Christian? I think there are million of Americans that would disagree with you, myself being one of them...freedom is supposed to be about opening up barriers so that no one has to hide, be ashamed, or fear reprisals for something they believe in. The constitutional framers understood this concept and that is why government should not endorse a particular religion. In schools it only becomes more complicated because in modern society, many parents are expecting schools to be the parent and after 18 years produce a person that completly conforms to their ideals...now multiply that by the millions of children out there! I don't know...maybe this is a crazy idea, but perhaps parents should take it upon themselves to teach personal values to their student on their own time and let schools get back to the business of getting students ready for the academic content they will face in their lives? As a historian I am quite well versed on the start of schools (from European's standpoint) and your example makes me cry because you leave out almost 1,500 years of trends that show how dominating Christianity was to Europeans and many others around the world. Could it be perhaps that in the last 50+ years, there have been enough people to stand up and say, "Wait, your opinion isn't the only one out there" I could continue the rant with Civil Rights, etc, etc...but I think the point is clear that ideological majorities have to share with minorities otherwise you end up with places like Iraq (oops...didn't we intervene there lately?)

Personally, I would prefer that schools spend more time educating students about the Constitution and the proper role of the three branches of government than politicizing students towards a particular ideaology. As the teachers' unions have increasingly embraced left-wing causes, more and more students are being subjected to indoctrination instead of education. Would the average public high school student even know what the US Constitution says about the role of the Supreme Court? John Roberts does. As far as how he'd rule on education cases, he'd rule according to the law. That's what he's supposed to do.

Any human concept is constrained by cultural factors. To say, "He'd rule according to the law," must assume that he'd rule according to the law as he understands it, an understanding strongly influenced by his privileged life experiences. In the same vein, to ask that teachers teach about the Constitution instead of politicizing students toward a particular ideology is to ask for an equally difficult objectivity. One must assume that teachers as well have a point of view influenced by their life experiences. I agree with Steve's suggestion but propose that part of the instruction include exploration of the very complexity that makes interpreting the law and the Constitution so messy--and all the more admirable an effort for it.

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  • kathleen stark, teacher, consultant: Any human concept is constrained by cultural factors. To read more
  • Steve/Technology Consultant: Personally, I would prefer that schools spend more time educating read more
  • KFitton - Teacher: I'm very concerned about moving away from moderates to extremists. read more
  • Scott Ruschak/Federal Programs Coordinator: John Roberts' positions as Solicitor General are irrelevant -- he read more

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