In the last few days I have read more anti-semitic trash than I can wrap my head around. Everywhere I look there are articles about the fact that the appointment of Elena Kagan will, if she’s confirmed, result in a Supreme Court made up entirely of Jews and Catholics. The first comment I heard about it was from my Rabbi several weeks ago. I thought it was interesting and so did he. He spoke of diversity and history, education and curiousity and the Jewish legacy of questioning and learning. He most specifically did not speak of any idea that somehow the Court would be “skewed” or manipulated as a result of the religious makeup of the Court. I am shocked that many of the comments I have read have been in Jewish publications! First, I should say that I am a lawyer by training and I spent most of my working life as a public defender; whose primary job, I believe, is to defend the fundamental principles contained in our beautiful constitution. I believe deeply in the freedoms embodied there and that they comprise the essential safeguards of our society, the first and last protection from unchecked power, often kown as fascism. Next, I believe that those who serve as jurists in our Federal Court system generally feel the same way. Often they share different beliefs about how best to interpret the constitution which, like the Torah, should be a living document, interpreted to be relevant in the modern world. What constitutes judicial activism is a controversy that has gone on for decades; centuries? And that debate is a healthy one, the different views keep our system in balance. Those who serve on the Supreme Court, I believe, are always changed by that service. Witness the number of democratic appointees that have turned conservative and republican appointees who have turned the other way. They should be changed. The responsibility of those who serve on the Supreme Court is awesome in my opinion and I believe that most who serve take that responsibility very, very seriously. The one exception currently being Clarence Thomas but I will save my opinion on that for another day. So, what stands out most is this. When the entire Court, for virtually all of its history until the last decade, was white, male, protestants, nobody complained. There was no talk of diversity, or the lack thereof. There was no talk of a “skewed” Court because of the religious, gender or racial makeup of the Court. So instead of one protestant there will be none. Why do so many care so much all of a sudden about the religious composition of the Court? Look around, our country is becoming more and more “diverse” every day. My son’s friends are Hindu and Muslim, Jew and Protestant, with the Protestants in the minority. The Court should be comprised of the best and brightest, the most thoughtful and the most caring. The Court should be comprised of those who, like Elena Kagan, have dedicated their lives to learning the law, living the law, teaching the law and loving the law. Why do so many care so much? Because racism and anti-semitism are all too alive and well here in the land of the free. It may be better but we are not done yet.
Elena Kagan is nominated to the Supreme Court and anti-semitism rears its ugly head in American. Constitutional and intellectual considerations are less important than the religious makeup of the Court.