The Supreme Court Shortlist
The views of the likely candidates.
Updated Friday, July 1, 2005, at 11:34 AM
Before the Supreme Court, represented the Boy Scouts in their successful suit to keep out gay scoutmasters. (Boys Scouts of America v. Dale, 2000)
On the bench, dissented from a ruling in favor of Jessica Gonzales, who sued the city of Castle Rock, Colo., when her three children were killed by her ex-husband after the police failed to enforce a restraining order against him, despite her repeated calls. McConnell said that the majority's ruling would "expand greatly the liability of state and local governments." A Supreme Court ruling is pending in this case. (Gonzales v. City of Castle Rock, 2004)
Separation of Church and State
In a law review article, argued that the framers intended to provide for broader protections for religiously motivated conduct than modern jurisprudence allows for.
In a law review article, questioned the outcome of Bob Jones University v. United States, the 1983 Supreme Court decision that revoked the school's tax-exempt status because it forbade interracial dating. McConnell argued that even if Bob Jones' policy is "morally repugnant to most of us" the rule affected "only those who choose to become part of the religious community defined by Bob Jones" and so should come under the constitution's protections of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
In a Slate dialogue, backed government-funded school vouchers that can be used at parochial schools. Argued that religious activity in a public setting or paid for by public funds is OK, as long as the government remains neutral rather than supporting a particular faith.
Agreed to grant a preliminary injunction to a New Mexico sect to stop the government from prosecuting its members for using a hallucinogenic tea during worship. In a concurrence, McConnell argued that the sect's interest in religious observance trumped the health risk to the sect's members and the interests of the federal government in enforcing its drug laws. (O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal v. Ashcroft, 2003)
Environmental Protection and Property Rights
For a unanimous panel, upheld a law that Congress passed specifically to permit logging in the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota. The law upended a court settlement designed to prevent the logging from going forward. (Biodiversity Associates v. Cables, 2004)
For a unanimous panel, held that the federal prosecution of a child pornographer—who paid a boy to photograph him and transported him across states lines—was consistent with Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce. (U.S. v. Riccardi, 2005)
In 1996, signed a statement supporting a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. "We believe that the abortion license is a critical factor in America's virtue-deficit," the statement reads.
Before Congress, testified in opposition to a bill designed to limit the access of protesters to abortion clinics.
Supports the originalist approach to constitutional analysis, which urges judges to interpret the Constitution in accordance with the understandings of its framers.
David Newman is a contributing editor at Legal Affairs.
Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor and writes about law, family, and kids. Her forthcoming book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Empathy and Character. Find her at email@example.com or on Facebook or Twitter.
Photographs of: Michael J. Luttig courtesy of Michael J. Luttig; John Roberts by Mark Wilson/Newsmakers; Emilio Garza courtesy of Emilio Garza and the United States Courts 5th Judicial Circuit; Michael McConnell courtesy of the United States Courts 10th Judicial Circuit; Alberto Gonzales by Joe Raedle/Getty Images; J. Harvie Wilkinson III courtesy of J. Harvie Wilkinson III; Edith Brown Clement courtesy Edith Brown Clement and the United States Courts 5th Judicial Circuit; Samuel Alito courtesy of Samuel Alito. Photograph of the Supreme Court chambers on the Slate home page by Dennis Brack.