Sunday, June 28, 2015

SCOTUS and Pontifex

A number of critics have rightly objected to the way in which the Supreme Court arbitrarily interprets the Constitution. There is, however, a striking parallel between the Supreme Court and the Roman Magisterium. Ironically, some Catholic apologists even draw that parallel (e.g. Jonathan Prejean).

There are Catholic apologists who say an infallible book demands an infallible interpreter. Put another way, they make it a question of who's the "final interpretive authority."

And that's exactly how the Supreme Court operates. Mind you, the Constitution doesn't say the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of what the Constitution means. But that's how American jurisprudence has developed. 

And we see the results. On that view, the Constitution ultimately means whatever the Supreme Court says it means. The Constitution has no fixed meaning. That's how justices can conjure up a Constitutional right to abortion or a Constitutional right to homosexual marriage out of thin air. 

By contrast, conservative legal scholars approach the text of the Constitution in much the same way as conservative Bible scholars. The meaning of the Constitution is determined by what the words meant at the time it was written or amended–as well as taking the historical context into account. Original intent. Legislative intent. The Federalist papers. The minutes of the Constitutional convention. And so forth.

Likewise, although the Fourth Amendment couldn't envision modern surveillance technologies, it lays down an enduring principle. 

The Supreme Court has the same mindset as the Roman Magisterium. And we see the catastrophic results. 


  1. Once again,Steve, right on target.

  2. Six of the nine justices are Roman Catholics (to one degree or another). Roberts Scalia, Thomas and Alito are on the conservative side, and Kennedy and Sotomayor on the liberal side.