Asking the right questions

Asking the right questions

The Reform Movement has come up with an interesting, and we think helpful, concept. In anticipation of upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, the director of the movement’s Religious Action Center created a Web-based campaign inviting people to submit questions they would like to see Kagan answer., created “to best gauge our community’s concerns,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, yielded questions that are well worth asking – certainly more valid than those that may, and are likely to, be asked purely for partisan reasons. The questions, and a letter from Saperstein, have now been sent to members of the judiciary committee.

Saperstein wrote, “While the Union for Reform Judaism has not taken a formal position on Solicitor General Kagan’s nomination in advance of the hearings, we are mindful that so many of the issues that we care about – from the separation of church and state to reproductive rights, from civil rights to the environment – are impacted by decisions of the nine Justices that serve on the United States Supreme Court. Thus, we believe that any person receiving a lifetime appointment to the highest Court in our nation must go through a comprehensive hearing process. Such a process requires genuine, thorough, and tough questioning that sheds light on the nominee’s temperament, constitutional beliefs, and judicial philosophy.”

We agree, and we hope that members of the committee will take the collected questions to heart as they decide what they will ask.

Here are a few:

“Please discuss your consensus-building abilities. How, as a Supreme Court justice, would you go about working with your colleagues to gain support for your views?”

“What limits does the Establishment Clause place on government funding that flows to faith-based organizations?”

“Do states have a right to define marriage as solely between a man and a woman? What should be the federal role concerning marriage?”

“Which government agencies have the power to enforce the Clean Water Act and other environmental legislation?”

“How will you uphold the civil liberties of American citizens in the face of growing claims that the executive (president) has the constitutional right to undermine due process under the rationale this is necessary to fight terrorism?”

Yasher koach to the Reform movement and to the contributors who have clearly given this matter a good deal of thought. We hope our legislators do the same.


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