Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Striving for Perfection


I commented on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor in a recent post. I said it was inevitable that judges bring their own background and biases into the decisions they make. Whether the Supreme Court justices follow existing laws or use the constitution directly in making decisions, there can be mistakes made due to prejudice and human failings.

A classic case is the Dred Scott decision which I discussed in a previous post. The court refused to grant Scott, an African-American, freedom from slavery for which he had sued in 1857. You can read the Wikipedia account here. One of the conclusions of the Supreme Court in the case, called Scott v. Sandford, was:
Any person descended from black Africans, whether slave or free, is not a citizen of the United States, according to the Declaration of Independence.
Obviously, this is an interpretation of the Declaration of Independence which today we know is outright wrong. Yet here it is in a decision by the US Supreme Court. Needless to say, it did not stand the test of time.

And consider the case of Roe v. Wade, which you can read about here. The laws of the state in which lower court judgment was made were deemed inadequate by the court. Several Supreme Court justices then interpreted the Constitution in a way that many do not believe valid. They gave women the right to abort their pregnancies. This was in 1973.

In our day we believe ourselves enlightened. But prejudice can be subtle. People in the pre-Civil War days would not have believed themselves flawed in their judgments either. Some people today do not seem to realize their own prejudices. If Sotomayor is prejudice, two wrongs do not make a right. But I think she is at least aware that prejudice still exists, and that is where her "wise Latina woman" comments come from (where she compared her own experiences to those of a white male).

There are probably volumes of books on why prejudice exists. I believe it is a temptation which we fall into because it makes us feel superior and it often gives us an excuse to take away physical things from others. It is therefore at least in part a spiritual problem, and only Jesus Christ can truly set us straight when it comes to our souls.

1 comment:

RAnn said...

Thanks for sharing with us