Three Panelists to Discuss Religion in Supreme Court

The US has a long-established ideal of separation between the government and religion – a perfect arrangement for the diverse political and theistic beliefs of the American public. Nevertheless, the partition between politics and religion remains hazy. Many wonder if a government official raised Catholic will naturally apply his beliefs to his job or if he will be able to sever his religious faith from his political career. PA’s Catholic Student Fellowship will host a forum on religious affiliation and the Supreme Court with a panel of distinguished political figures on April 28. Five Supreme Court Justices practice Catholicism, and the forum will determine to what extend the religious affiliation of Justices Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, Roberts, and Alito may or may not affect their judicial philosophies on recent controversial issues, such as gay marriage, and abortion. Their faith, particularly in regard to the aforementioned political issues, has sparked debates between rival political parties. Now Andover students will have a chance to hear the opinion of each political and religious faction. In his first term, President George W. Bush ’64 called upon Congress to support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages by defining marriage as only a union between a man and a woman. Many conservatives also criticized the Supreme Court’s earlier decision to nationalize abortion. However, decisions regarding abortion are re-assessed every few years. Panelists include Judge Mark V. Green, Judge James S. Gwin, Mr. M. Edward Whelan, and Peter Drench, Chair of the History and Social Science Department. Judge Green currently works in the Massachusetts Appeals Court; he was appointed Associate Justice in 2001 and has worked there since. Judge Gwin is the forty-seventh district judge for the Northern District of Ohio. He was nominated during President Bill Clinton’s tenure, and confirmed in 1997. He attended the University of Akron School of Law in Ohio for his J.D. as well as Kenyon College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts. Prior to ’97, he worked at the Stark County Court of common Pleas as an Administrative judge. Mr. Whelan is the President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) in Washington, D.C. He directs EPPC’s program titled “The Constitution, the Courts, and the Culture.” He is an expert in constitutional law and the judicial confirmation process. He was one of the lead commentators on the recently filled Supreme Court vacancies. Prior to his current job, he served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice, and has also served as General Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The panel will be held tonight at 7:00 p.m. in Kemper.