Symposium on religion and judiciary available on Web

Author: Dennis Brown &Carol Jambor-Smith

The Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics,&Public Policy hosted a symposium Nov. 9 in theEckCenterauditorium titledThe Religious Commitments of Judicial Nominees: Appropriate Questioning and Acceptable Answers.

The symposium is available for viewing on the Web at:



Panelists for the presentations included:

  • Judge DArmy Bailey, a two-term judge on the Tennessee Circuit Court, 30 th Judicial District.Bailey disagreed with the perspective that would allow judges to recuse themselves from cases because of conflicts between the law and the judges religious commitments.He stressed that judges take an oath to uphold the law, and that this oath should not be overridden or informed by religious commitments.
  • Matthew Franck, professor and chair of the Political Science Department atRadfordUniversity, who offered a brief survey of the Supreme Courts historical religious breakdown and stressed that the recent focus on religion in the confirmation process is a new phenomena.He observed that this new phenomena is likely driven by concern over the growing number of adherents to one religion (Catholicism) on the court, as well as by how religious commitment will affect the justicesdecisions in cases on abortion rights, gay marriage, and the right to die, which are at the center of theculture wars.Dr. Franck also noted that inquiries into religious commitments are used as an indirect form of questioning on judicial philosophy by those who feel uncomfortable directly questioning judicial philosophy, or by those who are stonewalled by the nominees on direct questions.
  • Francis Beckwith is the associate professor of church-state studies, associate editor of the Journal of Church&State , and associate director of the J. M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies atBaylorUniversity.Beckwith argued that, unlike scientific, historical, mathematical, or other sources of knowledge, religion has been systematically and intentionally marginalized (and personalized) so that it is no longer acceptable as a respectable source of information for the legal opinions of judges.

The Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics, and Public Policy , __ analyzes legal and public policy questions within the framework of the Judeo-Christian intellectual and moral tradition.The Journal offers two symposia a year.Next semesters symposium will discuss issues surroundingThe American Worker.

For more information about the symposium and the Journal, please see

_ Contact: Carol Jambor-Smith, director of external relations,Notre DameLawSchool, 574-631-6891 or

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