Time for an atheist on the Supreme Court?

By David Waters Previously in Under God, we asked what seemed like a logical question: With the only Protestant on … Continued

By David Waters

Previously in Under God, we asked what seemed like a logical question: With the only Protestant on the Supreme Court (John Paul Stevens) retiring this summer, should the president appoint another Protestant to replace him?

But a California blogger is asking what seems to be an equally logical question: Should the president appoint an atheist — or at least a nontheist — to the Supreme Court? “We don’t need another Protestant on the Court. Or a Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu or follower of any of the hundreds of religions that exist on this planet,” wrote Tommi Avicolli-Mecca wrote for BeyondChron. “What the court really needs is an atheist.”

The nine-member Supreme Court will never be a perfect demographic reflection of the United States. And of all the demographic factors involved in selecting a Supreme Court justice, religious affiliation is one that should never be considered. But what about lack of religious affiliation?

Those who think Obama should nominate a Protestant to replace the court’s only Protestant note that 51 percent of the U.S. population identifies with one of the Protestant denominations. Should half the country be unrepresented on the court?

But what about the 16 percent of the population that claims no particular religion? That’s roughly the same percentage of folks who claim an affiliation with a mainline Protestant denomination. Four percent identify as atheists or agnostics — much higher than the 1.7 percent who identify as Jewish or the .6 percent who identify as Muslim.

Some obvious caveats:

The Constitution says there should be no religious test for public office.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has declared atheism a religion: “Atheism is [the inmate’s] religion, and the group that he wanted to start was religious in nature even though it expressly rejects a belief in a supreme being,” the court ruled in 2005.

There have been no declared atheists or nontheists on the U.S. Supreme Court, and only one — Justice David Davis III, who served from 1862-1877 — claimed to be non-denominational.

Some historians do make a case for Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., one of 10 Unitarians who have served on the bench. A review by Thomas Grey of Holmes’ 1881 book The Common Law says in part, “His project was to to replace the prevailing theologically tinged or formalistic legal theories with a modern jurisprudence approach that draws its inspiration from Darwin.”

“I doubt that today’s Senate would confirm Holmes,” said Herb Silverman, president of the Secular Coalition for America.

Would today’s Senate confirm an avowed nontheist? Would Obama or any president dare to nominate one? Should someone who doesn’t believe in a Supreme Being be on the Supreme Court?

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  • RealTexan1

    By saying I do not want an atheist on the court, this in no way “legally denies” an atheist from getting there. I just don’t want one.I think soulless secularism is tearing this nation apart.

  • jckdoors

    I love the way Chritians, the dominiate cult in this country, always yell persecution. There will never be an athiest on the court because the bible-thumbing Congress would never let it happen. Talk about elitists.

  • barferio

    Christians are frightened of atheists, they’re scared to death of us. Of course they won’t admit it, but tell me – why do they go so far out of the their way to see that we can’t be on the SCOTUS, or run for office, or hold any office at all … be a principle or a teacher, anything they can control and prevent.In the past, as well all well know, they burned us at the state, preferably after a long period of torture. It’s in their nature to do this, it’s in the nature of the religiously ill to behave this way.Why are they so frightened?How often does it pass through their head that this religion of theirs, these gods of theirs, are just as much a crock as any of the other gods people have believe in? Perhaps after a lifetime of suppressing it within themselves they may be able to stop it, but until then — see the atheists admit, admit loudly sometimes, that all these gods beliefs are primitive barbaric nonsense … imagine their terror in their petty little hearts.


    I recommend that a MAJORITY of the Supreme Court justices be non-theists to make up for historical biases…Peace.

  • daniel12

    Part two.If we are atheists we are left with asking what exactly we mean by truth progressively incarnating in language. And certainly we cannot speak of language as an instrument of progressive revelation of concept, whether religious or otherwise because we have broken that essential service of language by disrupting and not supporting concepts of progessive incarnation in religious terms.In other words, the very religious situations we might deny, as atheists, due to what we believe to be logic–situations such as Christ being the incarnation of God in human form–affect our very relationship to things we might deem unrelated, such as language, but which actually are not. We might try to end religion, but people are still going to believe language something of a body which progressively incarnates the truth, as if Christ progressively entering human form, or the Buddhist soul progressively reincarnating and aiming toward perfect enlightenment.Religion might end but we still expect language to be a body to progressively reveal truth, as if truth is incorporeal and language a body which seeks to incorporate the incorporeal and in the process rarifies itself…Atheists rarely think of how their conceptulizing affects other fields than religion such as language and how law therefore might be affected. Of course if an atheist denies the existence of God and Jesus Christ he must also deny language can reveal any ultimate truth, that it is not the progressive incarnation of some sort of truth we yet cannot articulate…which means he denies also progressive articulation of law, for law depends on it holding a special place, indeed as being identical to the highest truths which can be articulated…Just some of the problems of atheism articulated here–in this case the refusal by atheists to see that in denying religious patterns such as the incarnation of Christ or reincarnation in Buddhism leading to a subtle relationship to language which in fact calls language’s well known task of a progression toward truth in question.

  • daniel12

    Part one.Should an atheist be on the Supreme Court?The main problem I see with an atheist being on the Supreme Court can easily be explained from the perspective of conventions we have of law and language.An atheist would deny that there is a God and that his son was Jesus Christ–the incarnation, in other words. An atheist, if here scientific, truly an atheist, would also have to call into question Buddhism insofar as that is a project to overcome reincarnation and achieve ultimate enlightenment.But our conventions of law and especially language follow a religious pattern. What I mean is we typically feel, no matter how little religious we are and how scientific we are that language aims toward truth, becomes increasingly more purified and sophisticated in the direction of truth. Or to put it in Buddhist terms, every attempt by a great writer is a new incarnation of the soul in a new body with the goal of progressive enlightenment of presentation.If we are atheists, truly do not believe in a God and and his son Jesus Christ we are also compromised in our belief in the fundamental pattern of language as a progressive incarnation of the truth, for by denying God we are denying the existence of an ultimate truth which progressively incarnates itself in language.

  • barferio

    Of course if an atheist denies the existence of God and Jesus Christ he must also deny language can reveal any ultimate truth, That’s garbage. Your essential premise is easily disproved, any effort after your premise is equally rotten.Why should your Jesus Christ be any more or less special than any other gods humanity has invented, followed, worshiped, killed for, died for, oppressed for?Mathematicians have described Countable infinities and Uncountable infinities. German mathematician Georg Cantor demonstrated in the late 19th century, there exists a variety of infinities—and some are simply larger than others.It doesn’t seem to make sense, not at first, that there can be one kind of infinity larger than another, but Cantor has shown how this can be so.In the same, way, any of the myriad gods humanity has invented are more untrue than reincarnation.Finally the propensity for religio humanus to invent gods and then assert Absolute Truths on them prevents us from even attempting to consider whether any Absolute Truths exist or not, whether the language we are using to consider it is capable of describing such things or not.

  • rschaeffer1

    I too suspect Holmes could not be confirmed today. Nor, do I suspect could Thomas Jefferson be elected President. He too was a Unitarian (based on his letters to Adams, who also was a Unitarain). although we try to live under a policy of “separation of church and State”, church plays a big role in politics, and politics is playing an ever larger role in the Supreme Court nomination process.

  • daniel12

    Sorry Barferio, you are dead wrong. To be an atheist means to discount the absolute. This means man living in strictly the limits of time, that there is no outside timelessness and so on. If you admit the absolute, infinity, that is identical to what people mean by God, no matter if you of course will now try to get out of it by declaring God a guy with a beard and that the absolute can exist without declaring it God.Language is premised, science is premised, on it improving, and getting closer to the truth. If you are an atheist you have curtailed this progression of language, have in fact declared it an impossibility that language will be improved indefinitely let alone progessively arrive at the truth. Your abandonment of the concept God automatically is an abandonment of the concept of the absolute and therefore language can only approximate what it is faced with and never has an ultimate truth to be gained.Language in the atheist world is locked within strictly time which reduces it to a pure instrumentality aiding human life–a life strategy–rather than any descriptive method of truth. Or rather the truth of language here in the atheist world is in its survival capacity for man and nothing more and is not a perpetual project toward the absolute as it is when one holds a belief in God. In other words, language can only do so much in the atheist’s world. There is no perpetual truth which sinks into it with repeated improvement. It runs up against the limit of no absolute which can be embodied in it. There is no absolute truth to incarnate in language in the atheist world as their is in the Christian tradition. Christianity holds there is a God and that soul enters body–incarnation. That means a theory of language which progressively incarnates truth. Atheists destroy that theory of language. Simple. Obvious. And true.

  • post_reader_in_wv

    Let’s review: the Constitution says there is to be no religious test for holding office. Seems pretty simple. A judge’s views on religion (for it, against it, for this one, against that one . . .) shouldn’t matter. UNLESS . . . that judge says, writes or otherwise demonstrates that his/her religious views trump the Constitution . . . well, then, no SCOTUS for you, bub.SCOTUS doesn’t NEED an atheist (I’m not one, but so what?) any more than it NEEDS a Baptist (I am one, but so what?). SCOTUS can HAVE an atheist if the president and Senate want. Best scenario: the prez picks an outstanding jurist who is confirmed by an overwhelming majority. Jurist goes on to have an exemplary career on SCOTUS. Nobody gives a who-rang-diddly about Justice X’s religion, who keeps his/her religion or lack thereof a private matter. The religious fanatics go away mad if they don’t get a person of the particular religious variety they want. Waaah. The “evangelical” atheists like Barferio go away mad if they don’t get an atheist. Waaaah and again waaaaaaaah . . Everyone else bids them good riddance as they go away mad.

  • barferio

    Daniel, belief in gods is belief in fantasy. How can there possibly be any absolute truth in fantasy? This absolute truth you’re trying to describe is just as much a fantasy as the gods you maintain provide such a thing.Just because you call something absolute truth doesn’t make it so. In fact, it’s further fantasy to do so.I never abandoned any concept of any gods either, I was never infected with such a thing, thank god.

  • YEAL9

    Julia Sweeney would make a great Supreme Court judge. The court needs some humor, added reality and a different outlook on matters of the state.Ex-Catholic, now atheist, her monologue “Letting Go Of God” will be the final nail in the coffin of religious belief/faith and is and will continue to be more effective than any money-generating book written by atheists/secularists or any blog on the historical Jesus, Supreme Court Justices or an “Ultimate Happiness Prescription”.Buy the DVD or watch it on Showtime. Check your cable listings. One of the reviews of her show as per Amazon.com:”I never heard of Julia Sweeney until I was introduced to her story yesterday afternoon. Living here in Arkansas, truly “God’s Country”, one doesn’t get much of an opportunity to hear sermons like her’s very often. I frequently have been disappointed in the stridance of the voices of many other atheists. Having lost my faith in god at a much younger age than Ms, Sweeney, I remember exactly how painful it was to eventually throw away that tradition. Like Julia’s experience, my loss of faith came about from reading the Bible. At age 12, my mother had her children still at home, read the sermon on the mount for 30 days. After this exercise, I thought like the good little Methodist boy I was, “this is the word of God. I should not only read these 3 chapters, I should read the entire bible and remember every word in it.” So the following night, I started at Genesis and eventially ended at the last word of Revelation. And then, because I was so shocked by what I had just read, I did it again. At the end of that exploration of “God’s” universe, I had no idea what I was, or what I belived in, I just knew that the God of the Bible was not any sort of God that I wanted or could believe in. Like Julia, I prayed many a night to have my faith returned to me. Her story is sometimes excruciatingly funny, sometimes tearup sad. But it is never for even one second boring or embarrassing or insulting. It is always respectful and loving, Never snarky, even when she is speaking of snarky priests and nuns. It is a wonderful piece of work. I am inviting a group of friends, some still religious, most not, over to watch and discuss as soon as I get the DVD. “

  • daniel12

    Barferio below:”Mathematicians have described Countable infinities and Uncountable infinities. German mathematician Georg Cantor demonstrated in the late 19th century, there exists a variety of infinities—and some are simply larger than others.I would have to say if Cantor demonstrated that there are infinities of various sizes his math is nonsense. Infinity means infinity. Trying to speak of small and large infinities is to remove the meaning of the word, redefine it–in fact deny infinity. This is to actually just fall back on basic math with its quantities, number size and set size. He obviously did not prove infinities of various sizes but merely could not do anything with the concept infinity and destroyed its meaning, in fact acted as if it did not exist, and went back to mere number sizes–as if after counting realized infinity beckoned then stopped counting and said the higher numbers are larger infinities and the lesser numbers less. Unless of course I see it demonstrated myself how there can be infinities larger than others. Show me that math. I believe one look will demonstrate it nonsense. The reputation of Cantor cannot possibly rest on such nonsense.In fact I will give you my math refuting Cantor right here. Let infinity be represented by x. Infinity being x, all possible number size is contained within x. If all possible number size is contained within x, and there are xs (plurality of x) of various sizes it has to be demonstrated how all possible number sizes can exist in the xs (pluralities of x) of various sizes. This of course is an impossibility unless one declares that the size of something is irrelevant to whether it can contain all numbers. And this latter sentence can be demonstrated true. One can cut a 12 inch pie and 16 inch pie into an infinite number of pieces. So in that sense there are infinities of various sizes. But–and it is a big but–one has not really demonstrated infinities of various sizes but merely that any object can be cut indefinitely, in fact that one can move toward infinity by constantly reducing in size or increasing in size, but that is still not reaching infinity. Infinity is always the escape from size. There can always be an infinitely smaller object. There can always be an infinitely greater object. Grow indefinitely. Shrink indefinitely. This, if anything is what Cantor meant. I hope this is what he meant. If not, I would have to declare him wrong.

  • mraggieman

    Isn’t it ironic that such prejudice so called “theists” would deny a different point of view. It’s alright to believe in something but has anyone ever thought that with so many variations of a supreme being that maybe, just maybe there is no such thing.

  • squier13

    I’m not an atheist, I’m in the Religious Sect who don’t believe in leprechauns. We meet in online chat forums and discuss the tenets of our non-belief while we hash out our formal canon for publication later this year. We’re somewhat noncommittal about the dubious existence of the myriad other deities invented by humans, but our non-belief in leprechauns is zealous which is why we demand formal recognition among the dozens of other real religions.

  • rsl903

    Yes to an atheist justice ! If we had MORE atheists in America then perhaps we wouldnt waste so much time,energy,money and resources on primitive and nonsensical religions.

  • andym108

    The irony is that if you were to judge our country’s degree of religious belief by the way it conducts its everyday affairs—lying, stealing, exploiting, judging, routinely breaking every Commandment in the Bible—God would be just about the last Force you’d suspect was motivating us. If you go by actions rather than words, we’re no more of a religious nation than the Martians.

  • jemoorman

    Why? There are at least 4 functional atheists on the Court already.

  • Michael_A1

    “The irony is that if you were to judge our country’s degree of religious belief by the way it conducts its everyday affairs—lying, stealing, exploiting, judging, routinely breaking every Commandment in the Bible—God would be just about the last Force you’d suspect was motivating us. If you go by actions rather than words, we’re no more of a religious nation than the Martians.You incorrectly assume that to be moral requires a religious affiliation, or at least a belief in a god. And that is insulting to agnostics, atheists, and so-called non-theists alike.

  • jasm917

    The evidence (including his extensive private correspondence) seems quite strong that Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., was an atheist.He could never have been confirmed today.

  • truckdoctor

    A dicey subject having no chance of becoming a reality. Seemingly, the vast majority of Americans are uncomfortable with those who hold non mainstream religious views… the closer the perceived non mainstream belief is to atheism the more likely the perceiver thinks of hidden horns.

  • ggwalt

    Why shouldn’t an atheist be allowed to serve on the SCOTUS? I’ll tell you why. The right wingers would be howling at the top of their lungs. Funny thing is, when you try to match words with deeds, the right wingers who profess to be Christians fail miserably. After all, I’m quite sure Jesus, if forced to choose, would have been a liberal.

  • Michael_A1

    Yes, it’s about time atheists, agnostics, non-theists, and frankly, everyone, had a person on the SC that looks toward logic and reason, and shys away from blind faith. It’s about time the rest of us have representation at some level. Atheists are the most undeserved hated minority in this country, and we’ve been quiet and under represented for far too long. Religious is personal, and it should stay that way. We do not have enough separation of church and state in actual practice.

  • ejgallagher1

    There’s an argument that even if the person was an atheist when appointed that after the fact they will have discovered their own divinity. particularly in 5-4 cases.

  • Sojouner


  • csintala79

    Why not? If the answer is, no, an atheist should not be on the court then appointees to that position would be required to meet a religious test. However Article VI, section 3 of the Constitution specifically prohibits such a test: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” It is ironic (to be polite) that it is strict constructionists (supporters of the legal philosophy of judicial interpretation that limits or restricts judicial interpretation, i.e., the word and spirit of the Constitution should not be loosely interpreted) that make this an issue. Whasup? This is another example of the hypocrisy of conservatives. They are not opposed to twisting the language of the Constitution as long as it is done to support their cherished beliefs (their oath to protect and defend is a sham). However, when liberals do so they are accused of being socialists, communists, Nazis, vegetarians or worse whose actions will destroy the fabric of our society and bring down our cherished democracy. The Constitution is very, very clear on this issue; it is so clear that asking nominees their religious persuasion is unconstitutional, i.e., it would be a tacit religious test.

  • jonthom

    It’s true that the Constitution disallows any religious test for appointment to the SCOTUS, but Obama could at least appoint someone who, like the President himself, doesn’t regularly attend any religious gatherings except on Easter or Passover. There’s no way he could get an avowed atheist past the howling teabagger hordes in the Senate, but he could at least appoint a de facto secularist. The present Court is heavily stacked with practicing Catholics and needs leavening.

  • garoth

    Why an athiest, if you are thinking of equal representation on the court? As you mentioned, athiesm is, itself, a religion. Many of the athiest bloggers here seem to attest to the depth and strengh of their belief – no less so than the most rabid Christian. Many of them do so to the point that they attack anyone who believes in God, in a way that often we see otherwise only in the most “evangelical” Christians.If the idea is that we should have a more balanced or nuanced view in regard to religion, it might be better to have an agnostic appointed. An agnostic might also be more likely to win confirmation – many or most of those who do not claim a religion, as well as many who identify themselves as Christian, are actually agnostic. It might not fly well in the Bible Belt, but for most it would represent a welcome change.

  • bigbrother1

    Absolutely. It’s about time we had an atheist on the SCOTUS, and I’m not even an atheist, strictly speaking. But it won’t happen in our lifetimes. Religious bigotry is still too strong a force in American culture.

  • clairevb

    So we now have a religious litmus test in a country that separates church from state? Why are color, sex, ethnicity, or religion even an issue when appointing a justice? If a person is reasonably intelligent, their personal beliefs about religion play no part in politics or justice. They should interpret the constitution as law and nothing more.

  • jvlem

    After hearing the story on NPR last week re: retirement of the only Protestant Justice and whether another needs to be appointed, my first thought was: Where’s the atheist Justice to represent the reality-based American ciizens? I’m all for it, but the believers would characterize the person as the devil, so it probably won’t happen in my lifetime.

  • csintala79

    One would have to gather from the comments made here that our supposed reverence of the Constitution is a pretense. If we are still conceding that Article VI, section three’s prohibition of a religious test for office will be ignored, then what good is the document? If the letter of the Constitution has authority then nominees would not be asked a question about their religious belief. This discussion would be moot. It appears that the ballot box has more weight than the Constitution and the device created by Madison to prevent mob rule is faulty. The whole issue of strict versus loose constructionism is a farce.

  • ribert

    No matter how much we would like our judges to be pure legalists, their underlying personalities will influence their interpretations of the law. Faith is certainly a significant factor in how a personality is developed and maintained.While I would personally love to see a non-Judeo-Christian member of SCOTUS, the implication of selecting candidates based, in part, on their beliefs, seems counter to current societal structures. The Constitutional language quoted by others arose from the writers having experienced the use of religious tests in England to exclude and restrict others who were not Church of England. We know from history how these tests have been used to unfairly restrict otherwise good and capable citizens.One other point — depending on the specific person nominated, an atheist may stand a better chance than, say, a Wiccan or Buddhist since the atheist certainly isn’t a heathen.

  • dcheretic1

    I’m an atheist and I firmly believe in no religious tests for government positions. No one should receive special consideration or treatment on the basis of their religious beliefs. Lawmakers should not inquire into a nominee’s religious beliefs and public servants must not let their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, unduly interfere with the execution of their duties.

  • Vipda

    //Would today’s Senate confirm an avowed nontheist? Would Obama or any president dare to nominate one? Should someone who doesn’t believe in a Supreme Being be on the Supreme Court?//The Constitution says there should be no religious test for public office.Among atheists, Ross Perot and for that matter Bill Gates stand out as strong candidates for Supreme Court vacancy and most americans will not have any difficulty accepting them.

  • oypay

    The conservative Republicans have already established that they are not happy unless there is a religious test for every part of life in the US; and according to them, the only “right” answer is “fundamentalist Christian.”

  • Miovski

    Diversity of belief on the Supreme Court and on all the federal courts is extremely important to ensure that no faith is favored or disfavored.But those who think that “diversity” is solely about including Catholics as well as Protestants, or can be accomplished merely by including Jews and Muslims as well Christians, or is about including atheists as well as theists, really are out of touch with reality. They fail to recognize that much of the world and a significant percentage of Americans practice other religions than these.Some Supreme Court justices have indicated their belief that only the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are worthy of protection under the Constitution. In light of that, it is imperative that the next Supreme Court justice appointed acknowledge that all religions (including non-Abrahamic religions and atheism) are worthy of the same treatment under the Constitution. And if the justice is an adherant of a non-Abrahamic religion (e.g., a Buddhist or a Hindu), that would be good, too.

  • sux123

    “The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has declared atheism a religion: “Atheism is [the inmate’s] religion, and the group that he wanted to start was religious in nature even though it expressly rejects a belief in a supreme being,” the court ruled in 2005.”

  • sux123

    Unfortuately, in this Country, if Obama appointed almost anyone, but an atheist – a minority or a woman or a Jew or a Muslim, the GOP may have to tread lightly not to offend any group. But, we live in a theocracy where only the non-religious can be villified with impunity. It should be illegal for any candidate to even be asked their religion, if any.

  • prossers7

    Time for an atheist on the Supreme Court?Atheists were an anathema to our Founding Fathers.

  • drbill21

    The constitutional prohibition on a religious test for federal office simply means that a person is not legally disqualified for office because of their religion… it doesn’t mean that voters (in the case of elections) or presidents/senators (in the case of appointments) cannot consider whatever they want, including a person’s religion, in questioning a candidate and voting for or appointing a candidate. In other words, if a Senator voted against confirming a Supreme Court nominee because of his religion, he would not be violating the Constitution (I mean, how could you enforce THAT? Reverse his vote? Sue him?)In short, the Constitution does not imply that a person’s religion is IRRELEVANT for public office. It seems obvious that a person’s deepest beliefs about life, humanity, morality (i.e. one’s religion) are relevant to almost any public purpose. It simply means that it is uconstitutional to pass a law AUTOMATICALLY disqualifying someone from holding office based on his religion.Furthermore, historically, this clause was not meant to encompass atheism… it simply meant to distinguish among the various Protestant Christian sects in existence at the time as it was unthinkable that anyone else would ever run for or be appointed to public office. Obviously, it now encompasses other non-Protestant religions.However, the 7th circuit notwithstanding, atheism is NOT a religion (just Google the question for the arguments) in any meaningful sense. Atheists do not have a system of dogma, a set of rituals for worship, or any of the other characteristics of religion… atheism is a rejection of all that; it is non-religion.Furthermore, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black (Everson v. Board of Education), wrote that America’s political system “presupposes a Supreme Being,” reflecting I think the position of pretty much all Americans at the time. It is difficult if not impossible to make sense of American culture (and therefore American Law) without sharing that assumption.Finally, many state constitutions require a belief in God to hold public office including an oath affirming exactly that. See The federal constitution only applies to FEDERAL office holders, not state, although I suspect the modern Supreme Court may twist the first amendment (which they have applied to the states for the last 60 years since Everson) to also apply Article 6’s prohibition on a religious test for FEDERAL public office to state offices also.Not sure if such a precedent has been decided yet though.

  • drbill21

    Oops… there was such a precedent:In 1961, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that federal law prohibits states from requiring any kind of religious test to serve in office when it ruled in favor of a Maryland atheist seeking appointment as a notary public.Haven’t read the decision so I don’t know what the basis was.

  • sux123

    Furthermore, historically, this clause was not meant to encompass atheism… it simply meant to distinguish among the various Protestant Christian sects in existence at the time as it was unthinkable that anyone else would ever run for or be appointed to public office. Obviously, it now encompasses other non-Protestant religions.

  • BlueTwo1

    Those who are doctrinal about belief in God find it impossible to disassociate in their own minds non-theists from people who worship Satan, sexually abuse children, love to rape, murder for pleasure, want intimacy with members of their own sex and animals, advocate the violent overthrow of the United States, love Communism and Fascism, knock over convenience stores, would steal from the collection plate, burn the flag, perform abortions, and advocate forced redistribution of wealth to the poor. Life without church, they believe, is life lived immorally. Evidence? Anyone? Anyone?

  • iowaheretic

    I would love to see an atheist appointed to the Supreme Court. They seem to be the only realist’s left in this country!(For example,the Supreme Court notes King Hammurabi as thier forefather to law. This PROVES everything about laws and morals being all about Christianity is FALSE, yet no one talks about this.)But Obama is just another STOOGE of the Religious Right, the same as almost everyone in the lying,theiving,murdering government, no matter if thier Dem. or Rep. Nothing changes under any administration,except to get worse, then after months of deliberating on any stupid issue(all at taxpayers expense),they throw the people a little chip off the bone and act like everyone in the country just won the lottery!

  • jmorela1

    To Daniel

  • gillyala

    I’d love to see a non-theist or secular humanist on the SCOTUS. Scalia doesn’t think the Constution was written for atheists. He also thinks is just dandy to use the Christian cross to commemorate fallen Jewish soldiers. Sandra O’Connor and her “Ceremonial Deism” crap is being used by spineless judges to avoid upholding Establishment Clause cases, like Dr. Newdow’s attempts to get “under God” out of the Pledge.We need a non-theist to counter Scalia (and Thomas and Alito, and Roberts,f or that matter) when cases involving First Amendment rights are before the court.I imagine any nominee that refuses to state their religious beliefs is inviting a journalistic witch hunt into their past activities. Politicians need to be reminded of Article 6 in the Constitution.

  • spidermean2

    There are thousands, if not millions, of flowers out there. Each one are pretty. Perfect in its use of colors. And to think that none of these flowers have eyes or mirrors to critique their own work.If it’s not supernatural, I’ll give you pot of soil and water and make me one colorful object, and don’t forget, blindfolded.Clearly, stupidity still abounds. An atheist at the Supreme Court feels like an idea taken out from horror movies.

  • pilgrim95969

    How would an atheist judge take the oath that all justices to the Supreme Court have taken? This is that oath: “I,(name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as (title) under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”How would an atheist justice adjudicate law in a nation whose motto is “In God We Trust”?How would a Supreme Court Justice view the rights of a citizen of this Nation under God when those rights throughout our History as a nation have been attributed to God and are therefore unalienable?How would an atheist justice feel about judging the Constitutionality of an issue when the Constitution itself ascribes Lordship to Jesus Christ in the date-signatore block, by the Founders.How would an atheist justice deal with the Ten Commandments inscribed at least four times in the Court itself?”The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations. … The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institution may be abused by human depravity. … It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.” –George Washington

  • seansorbie

    I have a few thoughts on this subject:First: I am fairly tired of seeing the sweeping generalizations made by both sides of this issue. I am an Atheist, a Republican, a former Marine, a supporter of gay marriage, and opponent of welfare programs and affirmative action, and many other things that might seem a paradox to people that maintain that this is a black and white issue. There are people on both sides of the fence that I do not want to be associated with and would prefer if those of you that like to use stereotypes would stop lumping me and others like me in with such unsavory characters.Second: I do not think that it is ever “time” for a Justice to be appointed to the Supreme Court or an Official to be elected to any office based on their religion or lack thereof. I do, however, believe that it is time for people not to be excluded based on that same criteria. Third: The issue here is that as long as Americas still have a distorted view of what makes and motivates an Atheist, an Atheist that does not hide his ideas about religion will never have an easy time getting elected or appointed to a public office.My opinion is that religious tolerance is practically non-existent and is necessarily incompatible with the Abrahamic religions (which dominate America’s religious culture) based on their sacred texts. Long story short: It’ll be a while.