Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The private lives of Supreme Court justices

Casting himself in the role of agent provocateur, Andrew Sullivan has already achieved a victory of sorts in that various media outlets are now engaging in hypothetical discussions about what if US Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan was a lesbian, hypothetical since there is no relevant public knowledge of that being the case.

For instance, Ramesh Ponnuru uses the discussion pages of the Washington Post to explain one view --

The leading argument for the relevance of a nominee's sexual orientation to the office--and thus for the public's right to know about it--is that a gay or lesbian justice might be inclined to rule in favor of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

Ponnuru takes the seeming high road and says that any liberal justice would vote that way, so the question of orientation is irrelevant.

But in the spirit of wondering whether undisclosed personal experiences might colour one's legal opinions, let's posit the scenario of a Supreme Court justice whose two children are two Irish children with adoptions run through an unnamed Central American country. Such a justice could have complex psychological opinions about issues from abortion and contraception but might also believe that legal constraints aren't really that much of an issue for people with money -- since running adoptions of Irish kids through an unnamed Central American country must be complicated and expensive, but after all, he did it.

Anyway, such a discussion is entirely hypothetical, since the media never wanted to broach the exact circumstances of the adoption of the children of current US Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Roberts.

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